City of Harare (CoH) will unveil a new set of environmental by-laws in the coming months. Included will be a new schedule of severe fines and penalties for environmental offenses.
According to CoH Environmental Regulatory Planner Clifford Muzofa, the draft of the by-laws proposes penalties largely in line with Environmental Management Agency (EMA) regulations. “Currently our enforcement is minimal. With the trend of ongoing pollution and environmental degradation, we need to come up with deterrent penalties and fines,” said Muzofa. He noted that the new by-laws will apply to both council and local government areas. The administration, control, and management are mandated in terms of the Urban Councils Act.
In the draft by-laws penalties range from the lowest fine of $50 for littering to as high as $25,000 for the abstraction of river sand, pit sand, stones, gravel, pebbles, clay, or lime stone without a permit.
Also proposed in the draft are environmental levies calculated from the total cost of a commercial or industrial project for the purposes of monitoring the costs of environmental audits, research, remedies and negative impacts. The levy percentages will be calculated using the risk factors expressed in colour codes which depict impact severity on a scale from blue (0.2%) to red (0.5%).
Some of the issues covered by the draft include the protection of wetlands, protection of water sources, bio-diversity, air pollution, the removal of domestic waste and the provision of waste receptacles, urban agriculture, conservation of natural resources in urban areas, and environmental impact assessments.
Muzofa said that most of the fines and penalties proposed are the same as those of EMA, but some penalties are pegged higher in cases where it was identified that there were extensive costs involved in remedying the environmental damage.
“The draft also covers aspects of the water and effluent tariffs levied by Harare Water. These tariffs have already been approved by Council. By the end of April we should be able to send the complete draft of the new by-laws to council for approval before it is forwarded to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, after which it becomes operational,” he said.
A committee has been set up, chaired by Dr Clemence Duri from the City Health Department, which incorporates the City’s Environment and Amenities Department, Harare Water Laboratories, as well as the City’s Legal and Finance Departments. The committee proposed the new by-laws four years ago, but they were rejected by Ignatius Chombo, then Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Image: Construction has devastated the Highlands wetland.