By Thandiwe Garusa
HARARE: More than 1,000 pickers from Pomona Dumpsite are facing potential displacement and eviction to pave way for a planned but controversial waste-to-energy project, it has emerged.
Despite the miserable living conditions at the dumpsite, most of the squatters have been staying there for more than a decade.
There are no toilets, no water and inhabitants are struggling to put food on the table.
Government says about 500 people are staying at the dumpsite, however the affected individuals told NewZimbabwe.com during a media tour Monday that they were more than 1,000 pickers, whose livelihoods would be affected if Geo Pomona goes ahead with threats to chase them away.
“They have threatened to give us an eviction notice, but most of us here have nowhere to go,” said Mike Chabarwa, one of the pickers.
“This is where all my life is. I have been staying here since 2008, where do you want me to go?
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“Harare City Council was way better than Geo Pomona because they allowed us to pick and sell the trash for US$5 a month per person, with the massive numbers which l estimate to be around 1,500. There are lots of people around this place.”
However, Minister of Social Amenities, Daniel Garwe, who was also present during the visit, said government had already started constructing houses for the pickers.
“As we speak right now, we are building flats across the country and here in Harare we are building in Dzivarasekwa where we are going to relocate these people as the social housing cluster so the issue of affordability does not apply but the issue is ensuring that government supply affordable accommodation where the three tenets of the Constitution mentioned are provided.
“We are not only looking at the people that are here, the 512, but the people who built houses in wetlands on river banks, we are going to relocate them,” Garwe said.
The Netherlands registered Geo Pomona Waste Management Pvt Ltd was given the contract to turn waste into energy for the next 30 years taking the dumpsite from council.