Home » General » Whither Mbare Musika?

A sudden heavy downpour hits Harare’s busiest market, Mbare Musika, catching travellers and vendors by surprise. The huge drops and the wind accompanying the storm are too much for travellers.

Those carrying heavy luggage stagger as they dash to verandas of the nearest shops.

Flooding follows.

The flooding, itself a sign of the failing storm drains, halts everything at the ever busy market.

Even touts and vendors who usually colour the market are clearly no match for the floods.

In a few minutes women and children are drenched.

So is most of the infrastructure at the market and bus terminus.

Some vendors seem to have given up and can be seen throwing away their soaked goods.

After some time more people crowd under the verandas of the few shops.

They leave a small passage to allow shoppers in and out the shop.

Shop owners are not happy, but the same people standing on the doorways could be their perspective customers. They have no choice.

Dripping water and crammed under the veranda, the travellers and vendors discuss the decay of the once famous terminus and city council’s failure to spruce up Mbare Musika.

Tariro Ngandu of Gutu remarks: “This is a clear sign of city’s failure to manage things. I don’t know why they still charge kombis and long distance buses entry fees. They have failed to do simple things like repairing the sheds. Now that things have been neglected for quite some time it is now expensive to erect new sheds.

“We sometimes curse the authorities for their reluctance to improve Mbare Musika. Come the wet season we know we are in hot soup,” she said.

It is disheartening.

For all its notoriety, headlined by thefts and robberies and other mischief, Mbare Musika used to have a dark allure, being the gateway into and out of Harare and a classic melting pot.

But things have fallen apart.

The toilets are in their worst state.

Human waste litters the floors. A g stench of urine welcomes visitors.

Sometimes there is no running water.

The terminus is an eyesore.

Now, corrugated iron roofing sheets, cracked asbestos hang precariously from neglected holding shades endangering the lives of members of the public.

Street families have for years invaded the terminus and have made the few remaining benches their homes.

They do their laundry at one broken water tap and dry their clothes on a section of the fallen shed.

Kudakwashe Mharem who lives in Mbare National, said: “Harare City Council neglected the terminus and as a result it is now difficult or perhaps costly for them to renovate these holding sheds which seem to be beyond repair. Street families use the remaining cracked asbestos to build squatter camps.”

Travellers going to their rural homes continue to be subjected to the vagaries of the weather and have been forced to endure the scorching heat and the heavy downpours of December and January.

Council has done nothing, preferring to talk of multimillion-dollar facelift deals that have been on the table for years.

Tawanda Rutunga blamed the City Fathers for sleeping on duty saying that they are misappropriating funds meant to refurbish the ter- minus.

“They have failed even to resurface the area despite collecting a lot of money from transport operators. We don’t know where we are heading.

“There is chaos here, gone are the days when there was some order or rather organised chaos, food vendors have invaded the terminus cooking and selling their wares right on the terminus,” Rutunga said.

Mbare is now subject to flooding, too.

The drainage system is poor and the City Fathers are reluctant to deal with the issues or rather they have forgotten about all those essential things.

“Whenever there is a heavy downpour that place gets flooded. It is not only in the city centre but here as well. No one seems to care. This is a clear indication we do not have representation at Town House. Someone is sleeping on duty,” said another Mr Martin Chibere.

“We expected them to be organised and plan before the rains came. They could, for example, have cleared the drainage system in time before the rains started, they should be cognisant that we sacrifice our hard-earned cash to pay rates and we deserve to get the service in town,” he added.

An outraged resident, Munashe Zvirevo, said: “The situation in Harare, let alone Mbare, is so pathetic. When it rains, the roads are flooded and the entire place is a mess. What pains me is that the responsible authorities do not care and are only worried about their mega salaries.

“We therefore appeal to city authorities to recognise that Mbare is slowly dying,” he added.

Government should consider setting up an inter-ministerial team supported by a high-level multi-disciplinary team of professionals to ensure the project is expeditiously implemented to the benefit of all Zimbabweans.

Recently, Harare City business development manager Mr Alois Masepe said the city has a vision for Mbare that will see the local authority develop a modern bus terminus with a regional bus interchange, a shopping mall and a budget hotel.

The project will also see the construction of a four-storey flea market superstructure and a fresh produce market with refrigeration facilities.

These remain just plans as the council says it has no money.

Council says it had approved a US$45 million deal partnership for the improvement of Mbare Musika. According to council minutes of November 5, 2014, the city approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and Olshevek Investments, a property development firm to work on Mbare.

The project is expected to commence next month.

We wait to see.

Plans for the redevelopment of Mbare Musika have been on the cards since the 1990s.

This has seen tenders being awarded, among them the one given to Allied Property Developers in 1990, Golden Wheels (Pvt) Ltd 1993 and that of Machipisa Brothers 1995.

However, various other efforts have been put in place to refurbish Mbare Musika but the relocation of more than 1 000 families living in and around the terminus has remained an issue.

Source : The Herald