The Sunday Mail
That Harare is aiming to be a world class city by 2025 may just pass for wishful thinking if we all do not act fast to save the situation.
I had a strolls across a small portion of Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) early last week. My heart sank. How did the CDB deteriorate to such levels of chaos. What we used to condemn and even laugh about in some countries is now the order of the day in our capital city.
The disorder left me with a sinking feeling that the challenges are now beyond the city fathers’ ability to resolve. They now require all of us. Vendors selling all sorts of items are all over the place, cars are being washed in parking lots, something that was illegal the last time I checked. Others are dealing in foreign currency and drugs on the other corner, the picture just isn’t good.
It was once a sunshine city, but neglect by the city authorities has taken its toll. The situation is redeemable though. Quick and deliberate action needs to be taken.
A world-class city has certain attributes. The infrastructure has to be up to standard. It has to be efficient and smooth. Its transportation is seamless. It also has aesthetically appealing sky-scrappers. It provides its residents with clean water. Equally, it has efficient management systems.
Harare has a long way to go in this regard.
Vendors seem to be everywhere. I have much admiration for people who earn an honest living yet it must be done orderly and prudently. Nothing should justify the haphazard ventures. We need to have order and sequence. We need to have uniformity, predictability and organisation.
We have days devoted to clean-up campaigns, thanks to President Mnangagwa and his team in Government. The campaigns are premised on the need to keep our cities clean. Beyond that, they also promote a healthy environment.
At individual levels, a healthy and smart environment soothes the soul. It comes with it a certain serenity, a calmness and contentment. These efforts are in order.
When one strides along the streets of Harare, they stumble along the way, as vendors impede the path. This is in flagrant breach of basic municipal laws.
What happened to orderliness? What happened to organisation? Garbage collection is almost non-existent. Supermarkets, illegal vendors, households, hospitals, clinics and surgeries are all a source of rubbish and waste. One sees piles of garbage wherever they walk. They are an eyesore, to be frank. The stench emanating from them is nauseating. I will not mention the health risk it poses.
We have associations that deal with such issues but it appears they are not being listened to. The challenge is worsening despite the outcry. To compound the situation, sewage is flowing all over the place, particularly in areas such as Glen View, Budiriro, Highfield and Mabvuku, which have had these problems for long.
It is not in contest that Harare City has a growing population. It is neither denied that the infrastructure was built for fewer people but this cannot continue to be advanced as the reason for the mayhem. Rural-to-urban migration has been happening at such a pace but services and facilities have not been expanded at the required pace, if at all.
By now solutions should have been found. We now even have urban-to-rural migration as people choose to live outside the capital city in areas such as Domboshava, Goromonzi, Seke and Ruwa. In another instance, dilapidated buildings that occupy a large portion of the capital city’s landscape are disconcerting. Appearance matters; tourists and investors are persuaded by looks. We need to spruce up that which we can and destroy the buildings that are beyond repair.
Ahead of resources, these things need planning and implementation. The city council has an inspectorate department which should be seized with these issues.
The Second Republic is going all out to put proper systems and infrastructure in place so local authorities need to step up to the plate and do their bit.
I have had opportunities to travel to such countries as Rwanda. We have capitals such as Kigali. It is a very tidy city. It has fresh air, well-manicured gardens to give an appealing look. Appearance is everything and one never gets a second chance to make a first impression. We need to do our utmost to make Harare more appealing again,
These are issues which should have all of us immersed in them. These should concern the powers that be at Town House.
We also have issues regarding haphazard settlements. When people just settle whenever and wherever, then problems begin. We certainly commiserate with the desperate dwellers needing accommodation, but the situation can be handled better.
Furthermore, there are environmental concerns. It is an indictment on organisational ability. We need to do our planning right. The business of coming up with high-sounding goals without corresponding follow through does not cut it.
Indeed, a world-class city by 2025 goal becomes an illusion on current evidence.
Mushikashikas cause havoc on the roads. But then again, they are allowed free reign. They do as they wish. They flout every traffic rule there is and they have caused deaths of innocent pedestrians. They cause congestion. They also cause accidents. Who is culpable?
The current levels of traffic congestion are not helping matters either. Worse still, many of the times traffic lights are not working, impeding smooth traffic flows.
As alluded to earlier, we now have car washers everywhere. Are there any designated spots for them? While this is a good service, it needs to be done in specific areas and not in the middle of the road. We do not need to taint our city by allowing certain businesses to operate however they wish.
We certainly do not have qualms with people who want to earn an extra dollar. There are bills to be paid and food put on the table. There may be family obligations which go beyond the individual’s financial capacity but we need to do this in an orderly manner. What perpetuates the kind of scenario we find in the capital city is corruption. Officers meant to ensure we have a vibrant and clean city turn a blind eye to all infractions and indiscretions.
A world class city has to live up to its standards. It is clean, efficient, organised and fluent. Its outlook reflects its citizenry’s aspirations.
We have those who aspire to positions of influence, be they councillors, mayors or other professional staff. May they live by the commitments they make during interviews. They really need to apply themselves or the situation deteriorates. We have a whole city which depends on them to meet certain obligations. May they not be found wanting.
Every business may have certain challenges. That comes with the territory. But the true mark of delivery is found in obviating them to really look at progress made and serve the very interests of those for whom one occupies that position.
Harare is the capital city and to anyone, it is a microcosm of the entire nation. A capital city is or must be the flagship of a nation. Harare needs to fit the bill. Harare is called a sunshine city. Where is the sunshine? The clouds of the malfunctions mentioned here and much more seem to be blocking the rays. Urgent action is required. We say world class city by 2025? That is only two years away. So, work is cut out.
In God I Trust!
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