HARARE – Youths who were making a living leasing off wheelbarrows to desperate residents in Epworth, could soon be out of business after the Epworth Local Board (ELB) stepped up standardisation of the dormitory town’s road system.
Epworth’s ward seven had been hardest hit by inaccessibility after residents haphazardly built their homes on the back of extreme poverty and a surge of land barons.
The town which grew from a squatter camp into a formal local board has an estimated population of 166 077 with almost 90 percent of Epworth residents settled illegally.
The settlement is now being formally urbanised with the ELB resettling residents and insisting on a set criteria for the building of houses before giving land owners title deeds.
“Formalisation of Epworth is an ongoing process,” Zanu PF legislator Zalerah Makari said.
“People had placed themselves, settled themselves without regularisation now they are being settled by the Epworth Local Board so that they build standard houses that are approved by the local board.
“We were having situations whereby if someone dies they are transported in a wheelbarrow because they is no room for cars to move.”
The lawmaker added that the leadership in the sprawling town were working around the clock with government departments to give the town a face-lift.
“On Saturday we were in ward seven constructing roads in line with the regularisation process.
“In that ward so far 7 000 people have been allocated stands but they have to build them in line with set model so that we don’t have situations whereby houses collapse,”Makari said.
She added that they embarked on a community development programme to ensure proper construction of roads and supply of water to the people.
Epworth has in the past seen an increase in the number of residents living with no title deeds and no claim to the land where they have built their homes.
Due to the haphazard settlement of residents, council is losing thousands of dollars through unorthodox connection of utilities such as power.