High-rise buildings the solution for Zimbabwe

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GIVEN the space constraints that the country faces, especially the urban sections, the construction of high-rise buildings  which consume less land could prove to be the panacea for the country’s ballooning
housing demand.
For now, Zimbabwe is not prone to earthquakes unless some tectonic movements lead to this eventuality. For that reason the construction of flats and other landintensive structures, albeit coming too late, could help solve the country’s urban housing crisis.

The government’s new human settlement policy as presented in the National Assembly recently, should also not forget the rural areas, which remain part and parcel of the country and therefore should also be developed.

Interestingly, the government in the 1980s came up with an ambitious programme that saw the establishment of growth points, which seemed alive to this reality.

The massive movement of people from rural to urban areas as people seek modern infrastructure has been influenced largely by the disproportionate development of urban and rural settlements, which has in turn put pressure on facilities and services in towns and cities.

The facilities and services, which were designed for smaller populations, are failing to cope with the demand presented by bigger populations, creating other challenges like perennial burst pipes in places while the shortage of potable water is unprecedented.

The bulk of the country’s new settlements, which are — sadly — largely informal and unplanned, have erupted in the country may need to be revisited. The government should look into adopting a compensation and relocation framework in cases where displacement and relocation of inhabitants of specific spaces is proffered. Most of these were constructed without regard to urban by-laws, let alone the Town Planning Act superintended by the Local

Government ministry. The hiatus in housing development on the part of local authorities inevitably led to the ballooning of housing waiting lists, giving room to the emergence of land barons who — in connivance with complicit
government and council officials — have been invading wetlands and other spaces reserved for schools, clinics, power lines and railways among other infrastructure.

It is noble that the government has realised there is a yawning gap and now wants to construct space-intensive high-rise buildings, although it remains unclear why the government took this long to awaken from its slumber and adopt aggressive strategies with the potential to eventually deal with the current national housing challenges.

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