Thousands of property owners in some of Harare’s upmarket suburbs risk having their properties demolished for non-compliance with the city’s building by-laws after they erected buildings using unapproved plans.The city argues that most of the areas were State land that was recently handed over to council, hence property owners, most of whom built mansions, should take their building plans to council for regulari- sation.
Harare has since warned residents of Gletwyn, Mt Pleasant Heights, Pomona, Belvedere West, Prospect/Mainway subdivision of Stand Number 830 and South of Ashdown Park along Harare Drive to regularise their properties.
The city, which did not give the property owners a time-frame, said it would move in to demolish the properties if they fail to submit their building plans. The city’s acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme yesterday urged those who have already completed their houses and those still building without city approval to approach the relevant offices for regularisation.
“These residents used engineers who are not from council, so we need to check if their buildings are in line with our requirements,” he said. “If there are amendments, our building inspectors will notify them. “This also goes to all people who are building on approved housing land, but have not submitted their building plans to council for approval.”
Mr Chideme urged residents in the affected areas to avoid inconveniences and loss of investments by submitting their building plans with their respective district offices without further delay.
Last year, council embarked on an exercise to demolish illegal structures in all the suburbs and recently over 200 illegal structures along High Glen and Kambuzuma roads, whose owners belong to 32 bogus housing cooperatives, were demolished. Council officials said the houses along the two roads were built on State land meant for a hospital and other amenities.
The city also demolished some houses at an illegal residential settlement along Airport Road built on land meant for the expansion of Harare International Airport. Harare City Council said it will continue the demolition of illegal structures in all suburbs as efforts to bring sanity in the housing sector intensifies.
It also said the demolition of houses by unregistered housing cooperatives and the operation of tuckshops which were phased out in 2005 is set to continue. The city has not serviced land for residential stands for the past 20 years, leaving the door open for the mushrooming of illegal settlements and unscrupulous land barons who stepped in to exploit a growing housing backlog.
Meanwhile, the council said 62 of its offices have begun transacting live, making it possible for residents to inquire and pay bills anywhere in the city. The city is also working on modalities to enable residents to pay bills in supermarkets and other retail outlets.
Mr Chideme said as part of the city’s efforts to improve revenue collection, 10 more offices will be online. “Harare City Council is adding more districts on wide area network,” he said. “This means residents paying their bills at these offices can now check their balances, payment history and other services.
“Harare residents can now check their bills at any of the 62 district offices. By the end of February, all 72 council institutions will be online. Residents can even check progress on their building plans at their local offices.