Zimbabwe mulls flats to avert housing crisis
THE Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing is planning to develop high-rise buildings in urban areas to reduce the national housing backlog.
While the housing backlog has spiked over the years to 1,2 million, investment in the property sector has been subdued due to the general economic decline that has seen little developments in the property market for the past decade.
Ministry of Local Government permanent secretary, George Mlilo, said government was seriously considering building upwards in order to satisfy housing demand as urban areas were fast running out of land.
The desperation for land has seen the rise of unscrupulous land barons, especially in the capital city, Harare, where unsuspecting home-seekers have been milked of their hard earned-cash after being promised non-existent land to build their homes.
The shortage of land has fuelled the rise of informal settlements, some of which have mushroomed on wetlands in violation of the urban council by-laws that outlaw any construction on wetlands.
Mlilo said Bulawayo’s suburbs of Makokoba and Iminyela were earmarked for demolitions of existing structures and construction of high rise buildings in the country’s second largest city.
“Using the resources which we have, we are going to destroy some of the old urban areas and come up with high rise buildings. In Bulawayo, we are going to destroy Makokoba and Iminyela. This dream will come true and it will be done well,” said Mlilo.
Makokoba is Bulawayo’s oldest township. Critics argue that the construction of high rise buildings in urban areas must be carefully considered since the government has a knack for pursuing programmes without fully considering their impact and the associated implications.
Often used against government has been the disastrous Operation Murambatsvina or Restore Order campaign embarked on in 2005. The controversial programme targeted illegal urban structures that were destroyed without providing, beforehand, alternative shelter for the victims.
Those affected by Operation Murambatsvina have often expressed their anger at how the alternative accommodation given to them by government was not suitable for human habitation.
Percy Toriro, president of the Zimbabwe Institute of Regional and Urban Planning, said a plan to build upwards in the urban centres across the country was a step in the right direction.
“What should be done now is to encourage and promote vertical rather than horizontal development, high-rise apartments could be the solution to that, tackling land scarcity while providing accommodation at the same time,” said Toriro.
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