Matapi flats upgrade: residents unhappy with gesture

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By Anna Chibamu

RESIDENTS of Mbare’s Block 4, Matapi Flats, are reportedly not happy with government’s move to repaint the outside of the dilapidated structures while they remain inhabitable inside.

According to a residents’ representative group, the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), local people feel that authorities got their priorities wrong.

In a statement HRT said interviews held during a tour of the Blocks of Flats after the re-painting revealed that residents while the outside of the flats now look “nice and beautiful” the structures remain a death trap inside.

“Residents felt that they were the ones who were supposed to give government and the Council their order of priorities within the urban renewal programme to make it more public participatory,” said HRT.

The HRT added that, whilst government had prioritised the painting of the outside to make the old flats look more appealing, the inside of the blocks were “traumatising.”

“Government has prioritised painting the outside of the flats to look nice and beautiful but the inside  leaves one shocked and traumatised at how residents live the way they do, with flowing sewer in their toilets and bathrooms.

“The sinks are collapsed and human waste is evident. The walls have huge evident cracks, which threaten their lives every day with three or more families sharing one room with children. There is no privacy, risking sexual harassment,” the group said.

Among other issues of concern are that, one block of 17 different rooms share one toilet which has deteriorated to the extent that residents now resort to the banks of the nearby Mukuvisi River to relieve themselves

One resident Anne Kawara (67) told HRT that “it is better to take a bath outside at night than to be in these horrible bathrooms”.

Another resident Sikusakhula Kawamba who lives in a room opposite a toilet complained that for her “it is like living in the toilet”.

Meanwhile, HRT says it has suggested to that the flats be demolished or be overhauled completely in order to exhaustively deal with the problems.

Reports say, families of up to six including parents and grown up children live in single rooms, making it difficult for social interaction while diseases spread easily because of the living conditions.

Local residents of Harare’s oldest township woke up to a changed environment last week but little seems to have changed in terms of the structures following a joint effort by the local council and central government.