Council to close condemned buildings this week

26 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Council to close condemned buildings this week Eng Chisango

The Sunday Mail

Nokuthula Dube

THE Harare City Council this week plans to begin closing dilapidated public buildings around the city that have been condemned as unfit for occupation.

Last month, more than 200 buildings, including about 14 tall ones in and around Harare’s central business district, were considered unsafe for occupation after city inspectors red-flagged the properties for poor ventilation, lack of emergency exits and general decay.

The building owners were then issued with abatement orders directing them to urgently repair their properties or risk their closure.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Harare City Council town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango said: “As of June 1, all the buildings that did not comply (with the orders) will be locked up because we gave them enough grace period to bring through their plans.

“If someone failed to use the six weeks’ grace period to spruce up their properties, they will be locked up.

“Now, we are going on the ground to tell them that we gave them enough time. This means those licences that are issued by the City Health Department . . . they are not going to be issued until they comply.”

In April, the city issued 233 abatement orders to owners of the buildings.

An abatement order is a legal document issued by a government agency or authorised body to address a building nuisance or violation.

It requires the recipient to take specific corrective measures.

The orders also seek to resolve issues that pose a threat to public health, safety or the environment.

Violations that trigger the issuing of abatement orders include unsanitary living conditions in a property, excessive noise pollution, untreated hazardous waste, non-compliance with building codes and air or water pollution exceeding permissible limits.

The authority to issue abatement orders typically lies with local government agencies like health departments, building departments or environmental protection agencies.

Fourteen properties, including Mahachi Building, Vivandelphi Court, Stewarts & Lloyds, Dublin House, Msasa House, Bush House, Roslin House, Daventry House and Robin House, were recently deemed unfit for use altogether.

Some of these buildings date back to the colonial era.

“We started issuing abatement orders on April 11, 2024 through to the end of the month,” added Eng Chisango.

“After we have finished, we are now going into the second phase, where we will not be negotiating because enough grace period was granted to the owners of the buildings. The second phase, which we are about to commence, is when we go on the ground and check how many have or haven’t complied.

“We will then lock up those that haven’t complied.”

He said some building owners have submitted their renovation plans.

“We have started getting plans on what they want to do . . .

“Some want to repair; others want to paint, because what we did with every abatement order is we listed what was supposed to be fixed, from toilets to stairs and many other things.

“With 233 abatement orders issued, around 30 percent have complied and have started working on their buildings . . .”

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