Borrowdale floods saga takes new twist

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HARARE – The Borrowdale flooding case has taken a new twist, with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) saying the privately-owned dam that led to the disaster after it spilled was illegally constructed.


This comes as the Environmental Management Authority (Ema) has also said that the affected houses, including Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora’s mansion, were illicitly built on a water way, despite warnings against the move.


Zinwa said it has repeatedly called for the halting of the private dam projects in a bid to protect the future of the ecosystem and the people.


Last week, scores of people in the plushy Borrowdale suburb had to vacate their homes after a private dam burst, causing heavy flooding and extensive damage to their properties.


Zinwa corporate communications manager Marjorie Munyonga said, due to the heavy rains, most private dams that were illegally constructed and are not under the authority’s inspection, have burst.


She said the Borrowdale private dam was one of those projects and is an example of how the so-called projects worsen the situation for the people and environment.


Under the Water Act, owners of such dams have an obligation to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the surroundings, particularly people.


“In most incidents of dam failures, such as the Borrowdale dam’s case in Harare, these legal requirements have not been adhered to while preliminary enquiries with other relevant institutions have pointed out that the dams were not even registered,” Munyonga said.


According to Section 109 of the Water Act, in the event of flooding or any unusual circumstance which may affect a private dam, the owner must take all steps within the law to deal with the situation, the Zinwa spokesperson said.


The Act also states that the owners must notify Zinwa of the action taken or propose to take in the event of such occurrence.


On Monday, Ema publicity manager Steady 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,” Kangata 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,” he said.


However, Harare City Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme, said “the legality of the (affected Borrowdale) homes needs to be brought on a case-by-case basis because there are some that were built as parallel developments”.

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