By Anna Chibamu
RESIDENT of Harare’s high-density suburb of Budiriro are up-in-arms with local authorities over a decision to allow a school to be built on a wetland.
The residents in Budiriros’s Ward 43, have since vowed to destroy any structure if the developer, who Council says has an offer letter for the land in question goes ahead and builds the school.
One of the residents Henry Chimbiri who spoke to newzimbabwe.com on Saturday after a near fight with Councillor Norman Makondo said the arrangement smelt of corruption.
“There is something behind this development. We suspect corruption by council officials.
“We will destroy the structure. We will be arrested. Even after serving our sentences, we will continue destroying the structure. They want to pour concrete onto the aquifer and water under-ground will dry up. This council has tricked us several times and this time, we are not going to allow them with the same tricks,” Chimbiri fumed.
Another resident, William Gwiti raised concerns over the critical water situation as residents of this area have relied mostly on the underground water from this wetland.
“We were not consulted. We just saw some people coming with graders, but we do not know what is happening. We are mostly concerned about the water situation. Once construction takes place, we will have difficulties in getting water. The council has failed to provide us with clean water for a long time,” Gwiti told newzimbabwe.com.
Harare has for years struggled with water provision to residents forcing most to resort to unsafe drinking wells. The capital has been hit by intermittent outbreaks of cholera and typhoid that has claimed thousands of lives since 2008.
Councillor Makondo who was engaged in a near-fist-fight with irate residents defended the decision to build the school.
“Residents are just worried that they are going to lose the land they had been using for gardening. Our technical staff has assessed the land to see whether it is suitable for construction or not.
“It is not a question that it is a wetland or not, the issue that we no longer have breathing space in Harare is my concern also. The resolution was made five years ago to allow for the construction of the school,” Makondo said.
Wetlands in the country particularly in Harare are diminishing and this poses a big threat to water availability. They wetlands serve as water sources allowing the precious liquid to flow into Harare’s main catchment areas like Lake Chivero.