By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
JUNE 30 officially marks the date outlawing the use of farm bricks in property construction following their ban by Chinhoyi Municipality last year.
Council had given residents a six-months grace period to complete structures constructed using the type of bricks.
Farm bricks, besides their inferior quality compared to concrete bricks and other kinds, were outlawed as their manufacture is blamed for the massive environmental degradation in Chinhoyi and surrounding areas as unregulated sand extraction continues unabated.
The municipality, which had resolved to ban the use of farm bricks in construction effective January 1, 2022, issued a six months’ moratorium on the decision.
Brick moulders and residents were given an ultimatum to wind up using the type of bricks by today.
Now, confusion surrounds the implementation of the ban as some property developers argue they had already procured the farm bricks, but were yet to finish building.
The local authority is mulling penalties to be slapped on all those found using the banned materials.
Mayor Garikai Dendera told NewZimbabwe.com the ban would immediately kick in, but would be waived for those who engage council and explain circumstances warranting exemption.
“There are some people who had started construction using farm bricks before their ban and might have already bought materials. These have to come forward to council and apply for exemption. These waivers would be done on a case-by-case basis and no further umbrella grace period would be given,” said Dendera.
He said those building new structures using farm bricks after the June 30 deadline without council permission risk having them demolished.
“We took heed of an outcry from residents who felt council had given short notice on the farm bricks ban, hence we resolved to effectively ban their use in June. So, all those who had started construction of buildings using farm bricks must have completed them within this grace period,” the mayor added.
Combined Chinhoyi Residents Association (CCRA) chairman, Tendai Musonza, said those with already approved plans must be allowed to finish building.
“Our members, the residents, are panicking due to the uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the ban. However, the law cannot be applied in retrospect. Those with building plans already approved by council must be left to complete construction using farm bricks because people face different circumstances,” said Musonza.
The municipality stopped the use of farm bricks in line with the ‘Smart City’ concept, which dictates materials used in construction activities must promote sustainable environmental use and exploitation of natural resources.
Manufacturers of farm bricks were leaving huge pits where they extract sand, and these swathes of land, belonging to the local authority, would be very costly to service before allocating stands.
ln coming up with the unpopular decision, council also wanted to stop wanton cutting down of trees which the brick-makers use to fire kilns or ovens.
Council has extended invitations to three reputable brick manufacturing firms, namely; Willdale, Beta and Macdonald’s to set up plants in Chinhoyi.