Proper urban housing development crucial

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OVER the past two decades, Zimbabwe’s urban areas — especially the capital Harare and interestingly, the bedroom town of Chitungwiza among others — have seen the proliferation of unplanned housing development.
Wetlands, river banks and other pieces of land set aside for specific purposes have been invaded by land barons who have in turn parcelled out the same to desperate home-seekers, some of whom have been on housing waiting lists since time immemorial.

People need decent accommodation and should have title to where they live in places where their safety is guaranteed even in the event of natural calamities like floods.

In the case of Harare, the housing waiting list has swelled to alarming levels, with successive council administrations failing to bring order. Councils have been sleeping on the job for too long while housing waiting lists grew beyond control.

On the other hand, known land barons have been wreaking havoc in towns and cities, fleecing unsuspecting citizens, with councils failing to arrest the phenomenon. Residents lose investments as councils demolish housing structures and property ― like has been happening recently, leaving families with no roof above their heads.

While the residents should do due diligence checks with councils over land they intend to purchase, at times top local authority officials are complicit in these widespread scams involving housing stands and the public at times falls prey to the scams owing to the involvement of council officials.

Due to the council officials’ involvement, residents sadly pass the transactions as above board but later rue the thousands of dollars they would have flushed down the drain.

Perhaps the blame should lie squarely on local authorities who watch as residents put up structures in the wrong places. The State also ― at the end of the day ― besides owning all the land, must ensure crucial planning and other by-laws are followed to the letter to avoid unfortunate incidents like demolitions.

Demolitions ― no matter who you want to blame — are morally wrong when you look at the outcome. Stranded families struggling to find alternative shelter and destroyed property, among other bad things, are not good sights.

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