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Chinhoyi To Demolish Illegal Cottages After Water Tank Tragedy

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent


RATTLED by the tragic death of five-year-old Tendai Matumba after a large tank filled with water fell onto the roof of an unplanned two-roomed cottage last week, authorities within the Chinhoyi Municipality could be planning on demolitions on all illegal structures in the town.

The local authority will also soon table proposals to regulate the installation of water reservoirs, particularly in high density suburbs where they pose the greatest danger to residents.

Tendai of Rujeko suburb was early Friday crushed to death after a neighbour’s 5 000-litre water tank collapsed onto a rented cottage in which the minor and her family members were sleeping in.

Tendai’s sibling, Tatenda (9), her father Peter Matumba and mother were seriously injured and are admitted at Chinhoyi Hospital where they are recovering.

The tank overlooked the cottage and they were separated by a precast wall a few meters apart.

Chinhoyi mayor, Garikai Dendera Tuesday described Tendai’s passing in such painful circumstances as unwarranted, putting the blame squarely on his council’s housing and engineering inspectorates.

“I learnt with shock of the young girl’s death which was unfortunate and could have been avoided had council’s housing inspectors been vigilant and raised a red flag over the sprouting of illegal and substandard cottages in Rujeko and other new suburbs.

“From the tragedy, you will appreciate that the precast wall on which the water tank’s full impact was centred did not crumble because it’s a standard wall, but upon hitting the estimated 4, 5 inch wall of the illegal cottage, there was extensive damage resulting in death and injuries.”

He said following last week’s mishap, council would “make the unpopular decision to raze down illegal cottages, tuckshops and outbuildings”.

Dendera said on expiry or further relaxation of the Covid-19 induced lockdown that has paralysed council operations and seen a ban on committee and full council meetings, the city fathers would table recommendations on criteria to be considered when residents intend to install water tanks at their premises.

“There is need to formulate a by-law making it compulsory to include the water tanks mountings on a house’s plan, which would be approved by council first before one can install,” said Dendera.

The mayor lamented continued water shortages in the town which has seen residents resort to wanton sinking of wells and boreholes and hoisting water tanks on unapproved steel structures, with some erected by dubious workmen.

Said the mayor, “In Rujeko, in most instances there is no piped water forcing residents to sink wells and boreholes and install water tanks which would not have been approved by our engineers, thereby, posing a danger to residents.”

Chinhoyi Residents Association chairman, Clifford Hlupeko hailed the impending move by council, although he reiterated the urgent need for the local authority to prioritise provision of clean, safe potable water to the entire town.

Following the water tank tragedy, Chinhoyi-aligned social media groups were abuzz with concerned residents urging council to regulate the drilling of boreholes and installation of water tanks in populous suburbs.