Home » General » Local Authorities Act Realignment Overdue [editorial]

The call for local authorities to bring about a realignment of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act to the times that we live in is long overdue.

A look at the notices in the paper any day will show that properties are still listed as being in townships in Salisbury yet the capital city was renamed more than 30 years ago soon after Independence.

But it is important to make sure that the changes are not just cosmetic where the name is altered and the real issues are not addressed. For example, the intention to preserve special lands which include wetlands and stream banks may be coming a bit too late.

It is envisaged that building, dredging and excavating on wetlands, sloppy areas, hills, land within 30 metres of naturally defined banks of a stream and land within 30 metres of the high flood level of any body of water conserved in artificially constructed water stage beds, banks of any river or stream will be banned.

We have already seen construction take place in wetlands in spite of spirited objections by environmentalist pressure groups in Harare. The same problem is also prevalent in Chitungwiza where authorities and property owners must now deal with the headache of buildings that should not have been there in the first place.

As we write this comment the accumulation of rubble along the banks of Mukuvisi along Seke Road indicates that yet more construction is going up right on the verges of the stream. In Graniteside after crossing Cripps Road along the same road it is quite tragic to see that the hillock on the right side of the road will soon be no more as it is being excavated for building material.

These are just a few examples of problems that are widespread. All this shows a clear lack of willpower in the authorities that should be enforcing the protection of such places. The issue of non-punitive penalties has been raised.

But we feel that these are cases where the Environmental Management Agency should be roped in to ensure compliance and deterrent punishment. The issue of zoning in urban areas is also another important cornerstone of development that needs urgent redress.

Most town centres have been downgraded to vending sites. Harare CBD is now an ugly place full of people loudly hawking everything from fruit and air time to aphrodisiacs among them banned substances.

Obviously this has impacted negatively on investment in the city centre which is now growing shabbier by the day as most businesses opt to relocate to office parks. We need to reclaim this area and restore the glamour of towns as we once knew them.

Many people are also facing challenges in their residential areas as businesses sprout overnight anywhere and everywhere. Entrepreneurs are basing operations of heavy trucks and other such noisy businesses in residential areas.

Roads that were only meant to service light vehicles are now being destroyed by heavy loads.

We would, therefore, like to urge the local authorities to come up with comprehensive measures that will improve the lot of residents and not yet another raft of high-sounding zero delivery policies.

Source : The Herald