City of Harare has imposed a permanent ban on hiring out Africa Unity Square for public functions.
Director of Amenities for the City of Harare, Dombo Chibanda said the decision was effected in June as public functions were causing noise pollution at the epicenter of Harare.
“We had received numerous noise complaints from the surrounding businesses. The park is at the center of the CBD and near some of the city’s prestigious buildings, so the noise was becoming disrespectful,” explained Chibanda.
Mr Muchadeyi Masunda, whose chambers in the Old Mutual Centre overlook the square, is pleased with the development. “It is long overdue for the City of Harare to address the unacceptably high noise levels emanating from a number of civic and religious functions that are held at Africa Unity Square,” he said. “Sight should not be lost of the simple fact that Meikles and Crowne Plaza are the most highly graded hotels in Harare. As a result, virtually all our business visitors and well-heeled tourists get billeted at these two hotels.”
Chibanda says they are currently notifying all those who had made bookings in advance to look for alternative venues.
Africa Unity Square, formerly known as Cecil Square, is a historical site and is surrounded by some of the city’s oldest most prestigious buildings such as the five star Meikles Hotel and the Parliament buildings.
The square is used by city dwellers and visitors alike as a resting place since it provides a relaxing outdoor atmosphere with its well-manicured lawns and cool shade. Of late however the park’s beauty has been dented by public functions such as roadshows, leading to increased dilapidation.
“Council is not making any profits from hiring out the park hence the decision. The toilets were being constantly vandalised and the activities were damaging the lawn so we realised there was no value for money in those activities,” revealed Chibanda.
On the other hand, Harare Gardens remains open to public events but Council has resolved to move them further inside the gardens.
Some event organisers have raised concern about the Council’s latest move, which leaves them with few options as outdoor venues are very limited within the city.
“Outdoor events will now be difficult to organise because we cannot all go to Harare Gardens,” complained one organiser.
It remains to be seen whether Harare Gardens can handle all of the events people want to hold in it.
The city is also holding meetings with the Ministry of Tourism in preparation of the UNWTO to work out ways to deal with litter and noise pollution in the city.
“There are different types of noise in Harare which include automotive noise, acoustic noise, as well as noise from touts, so hopefully these issues will be taken up in these meetings as the city prepares for this showcase,” said Chibanda.