Last month saw City of Harare start pulling down illegal billboards that have mushroomed in the city. This followed audit findings that the city had lost out on more than $4 million since March from unpaid commercial advertising.
Advertisers or agents looking to place billboards anywhere in the city must first seek council approval and pay the correct levies. Billboards can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a month to rent depending on location, and Council charges for the use of public areas. However, in recent years, businesses have enjoyed a lack of policing of this policy, and erected billboards seemingly at will.
City of Harare principal communications officer, Michael Chideme, said that council had already identified all the illegal billboards and was now working on their removal.
“We are removing all illegally erected billboards whether on buildings or along the roads and we are encouraging businesses who had erected billboards illegally to remove them. Failure to do so will result in council removing them on their behalf and at a cost,” said Chideme.
Chideme also revealed that council was working on amending advertising by-laws so that council can charge for commercial billboards erected inside private properties such as schools and private homes.
“Most businesses have not been paying for their billboards because there has been a lull in policing over the years. But the process of enforcement is now on-going,” added Chideme.
The uncontrolled erection of billboards has meant some advertisements being set up on positions where they either obstruct the view of the motoring public or where they block legally erected billboards. Fiona Chikwenhere (35) from Newlands said that illegal billboards should be removed as they are affecting the beauty of the city.
“It is sad to note that some of the illegal billboards are of poor standard and affecting the surrounding environment. So it is really a welcome development to clear up our passage ways of all illegal billboards,” said Chikwenhere.
Another resident Albert Maingire (43) from Highfield, agreed saying that council should also prohibit the erection of small, movable billboards that are placed on pavements during the day as they are now affecting pedestrians.
“Pavements in the CBD are now impassable due to mobile billboards. Council should also consider regulating these,” said Maingire.
Peter James (29) from Hatfield added that the levying of all billboards has the potential to hugely increase council’s revenue.
“Council is definitely losing a lot of revenue due to illegal advertising in the form of billboards, posters and,even flyers. Council should enforce the existing advertising by-laws if they are serious about making Harare a world class city by 2025 because we definitely cannot have a world class city where businesses are allowed to advertise without control,” said James.