HARARE – Homes that were ravaged by floods in the affluent Borrowdale suburb last week were actually built on a waterway, the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has said.
The agency’s publicity manager, Steady Kangata, said the houses, including Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora’s mansion, were constructed on the area, despite warnings by Ema against the move.
This comes as some of the scores of homes that have also been rocked by the floods in Harare were built on wetlands.
The Borrowdale homes were destroyed by flood waters after a dam uphill spilled following a heavy downpour.
Kangata told the Daily News that caution was thrown to the wind not to build on wetlands and waterways.
He said people have a tendency of trivialising environmental advice, which later results in extensive property loss when disasters occur.
“People must not tamper with or build along waterways as in the Borrowdale case because this is where water flows freely. Waterways are the natural course of water and will remain so. They must also not build on wetlands because they help in flood control by absorbing the heavy rains and release them in the event of droughts,” he said.
“People should respect and appreciate nature because if you put perimeter walls in a waterway, it creates throwback. When the wall eventually gives in, the flowing water will destroy anything in its path because it will have a lot of pressure,” Kangata said.
He added that Ema has a map of the location of wetlands and other green zones that must be avoided when developing areas for residential or other purposes.
Civil Protection Unit acting director, Sibusisiwe Ndlovu, has issued a warning of more floods as two dams around Hogarty Hill have breached.
The Harare City Council (HCC) also issued a similar warning to residents in the area to have all their perimeter walls and house plans approved by council.
“HCC is advising residents who build perimeter walls around their properties to ensure that any such constructions are approved by the city’s building inspectorate and that their plans are approved,” the local authority said in statement.
“The perimeter walls in brick and mortar created a buffer that disturbed the natural flow of run-off water leading to flooding and overpowering of the perimeter walls. The flow thereon was so intense that it tore into houses breaking window panes and doors and in some instances washing away property such as refrigerators, couches and television sets,” it said.
Harare mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, said; “I have not gone in to the approval history of the area. Right now we are still dealing with the disaster.”
Last year, council advised residents in affluent Harare suburbs to submit their building plans as they had illegally constructed their homes and would face demolition.
Areas that would have faced demolition included Gletwyn, Pomona, Mount Pleasant Heights, and Belvedere West and Prospect.