City of Harare has started the demolition of illegal structures that have mushroomed at commuter ranks in the Central Business District (CBD).
Many structures had been built at most ranks and were operating as canteens and takeaways as well as phone accessory shops. At Fourth Street bus terminus, small grocery shops had been set up on an open ground between the kombi bays, however these shops have already been brought down.
According to a press release by Leslie Gwindi, the City’s corporate communications manager, released this week, some of the illegal structures to be demolished were erected overnight without council’s approval and the process of demolishing them was started last week.
“Last week an illegal structure was brought down at Copacabana. Another illegal structure on the corner of First Street and George Silundika Avenue has also been brought down. More such illegal structures at the Fourth Street bus terminus are in the process of demolition,” said Gwindi.
According to the press release, illegal structures destroy the aesthetic beauty of the built up area and are a breeding ground for vice.
“Owners of illegal buildings are being advised to remove their structures ahead of the demolitions to save their property and goods. Our teams are moving around the CBD identifying such structures for demolition,” added Gwindi.
However, some of the people operating the ‘illegal’ structures at Fourth Street said that council was now reversing gains of the country’s indigenisation programme.
“This is highly inconsiderate on the part of the council authorities. We are trying to earn a decent living here and we feel that they are now robbing us of our fruits from the country’s indigenisation programme,” said one canteen owner at Fourth Street who requested anonymity.
Another canteen owner at Fourth Street said that council was now trying to short-change them as they had valid licenses. However, when interrogated to show Harare News the license, she could not do so.
One cigarette vendor at the rank, who refused to be named, claimed that some council officials had given the illegal structure operators permission to erect the structures.
“They were obviously given permission by some council officials but I suspect that the permission was acquired through the back door,” he said.
Many structures have mushroomed in Harare over the past few years, not only at ranks but at other open spaces around the city too. It remains debatable whether the removal of illegal structures in the CBD will help towards Harare’s world class vision.