The construction of the multi-million dollar Harare Airport Road has resumed, after a break, a move towards the fulfilment of the City’s goal of attaining world-class city status by 2025. Infrastructural development, public accessibility to reliable transportation and excellent communication systems are some of the distinguishing attributes of a world class city.
Airports are vital links between cities, and therefore act as the faces of nations in the global arena. Harare is no exception; however, any development impacts on the environment and the way people live in the area where it is taking place.
The airport road project will see some residents having their properties trimmed in size to accommodate the expansion of the road. Harare News spoke to affected residents to gauge their feelings. Most of them were not sure of the current situation concerning this issue as they last got communication from the City of Harare (CoH) sometime in 2013, before the project took a break. “Initially in 2012 we were told that our houses were going to be demolished and we were going to be either relocated or compensated, but then only last year we were told that no house was going to be demolished but that some portions of our durawalls would be destroyed,” said Tariro Magasa, a resident. She added that since the resumption of work on the road, no communication from CoH has been issued about the latest developments.
Another resident who only identified herself as Madzimai, a tenant on Nymegen Road in Braeside, confirmed receiving two notices in 2012 and 2013 respectively, which she said are in possession of her landlord who resides in another suburb. She however, expressed concern about how close the major road is going to be to their houses if some parts of their yards are absorbed by the road. “Our houses are going to be too close to the highway if they do it and I think this would be dangerous for us,” she said.
The affected properties have had their walls marked with red paint showing the sections to be appropriated by the project. Of concern to residents is that some houses are in line with the marked areas, meaning that those houses would need to be knocked down.
Talking to Harare News, Steady Kangata of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), said that residents can refer to the city’s plans, which predate the demarcation of plot boundaries along the road, to allow for its expansion.
“The 2010 EIA that was carried out in line with the Environmental Management Act chapter 20:27 included a social impact assessment and involved the calling of a scoping meeting. EMA advised on how to mitigate the effects of the development including limiting the hours of construction for noise purposes, but to us this is not a new road, it is a widening,” said Kangata.
This paper is reliably informed that the construction of this road is being done by the Mashonaland East Provincial Road Engineering Department which is under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. This came after the ministry expressed concern over the delays by Augur Investments, casting doubts on the contractor’s ability to complete it.
This reporter was referred from the Provincial Road Engineer to the Director of Roads and later asked to mail questions to the Permanent Secretary. With the tight time frame, we couldn’t get a comment from the developer (ministry) before going to print.
Meanwhile, Michael Chideme from City of Harare Corporate Communications Department said it is now a different scenario as the project is now being administered by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. “It is now different a different story my friend, the project is no longer in the hands of the city council,” he said.