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Flood-affected residents reject relocation plan

Budiriro woke up in shock last week, after ferocious floods from a nearby stream tore through the suburb, swamping homes and destroying property.

Residents in the flood-prone Budiriro high-density suburb in Harare said this week the local authority must pour financial resources to redevelop damaged infrastructure, instead of forcing them to vacate an area some have lived since 2004.

Budiriro woke up in shock last week, after ferocious floods from a nearby stream tore through the suburb, swamping homes and destroying property.

Reports said 15 houses built on wetlands in the area were submerged, following incessant rains that have triggered intense flooding in many parts of the capital since the last week of December.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Prosper Mutodi, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife, said presentations had already been made in cabinet to ensure wetlands were protected.

He said “radical” action would be taken to deal with residents who have settled on wetlands in the area.

In the aftermath of the floods, government announced it would be evacuating 27 affected families in the area and resettle them in blocks of flats in the nearby Dzivaresekwa suburb.

About 205 families live in the area affect by floods.

In an interview with the Independent, many of the affected residents said relocating them would be costly.

“Government approved that it was possible to build houses here so all we need is for the City of Harare to develop the place, not evacuating us,” Tsitsi Kanobirika, a 49-year-old resident, said.

She spoke as more rains battered the damaged homes, with the ministry of national housing and the local government ministry, vowing the clean up the mess created by land barons.

Many desperate home seekers have been affected by the land barons, who have pegged stands in many parts of the capital.

“We are likely to face double loss. If we leave the place, it will be given to someone else. They should develop the place with drainage systems, roads and divert the river,” Kanobirika said.

Another resident, Sylvia Mugona also said authorities must develop, rather than force them out of Budiriro.

“What we fear is that we will lose on both sides. We may fail to pay our rentals in the flats, and we will be evicted. Here we will have lost our stand. We joined co-operatives that were established as far back as 2004, and we were allocated land here in 2012. Now they are asking us to leave,” Mugona said.

Daniel Garwe, the National Housing minister, said during a tour of the area the Dzivaresekwa houses were almost ready.

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