48-hour ultimatum for Harare to fix poor drainage system

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HARARE residents under the umbrella Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) have given the council a 48-hour ultimatum to attend, maintain, repair and refurbish the drainage systems in the capital.

The residents say many suburbs in Harare have experienced flash floods during the current rain season and will continue experiencing such flash floods unless the water drainage system is attended to.

Such flooding placed residents at risk of contracting waterborne diseases.

In a letter addressed to the Town Clerk on behalf of Harare residents by their lawyer Tinashe Chinopfukutwa on January 19 2022, they said the local authority’s neglect to fix drainage systems in the capital city constitutes an infringement of their right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.

They also stated that such neglect amounts to a breach of the local authority’s legal duty to take necessary measures to convey and dispose of stormwater as provided in terms of Section 168 of the Urban Councils Act.

The residents reminded the local authority that in terms of Section 73 of the Constitution, every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being and stated that its failure to maintain, repair and refurbish the drainage system in the high-density suburbs will leave them with no option but to institute proceedings for a court order compelling it to do so.

Council acting spokesperson Mr Innocent Ruwende said they have been attending to drainages since June last year.

Mr Ruwende said people were littering every day and blocking catch pits while vendors were using them as storage.

“People should realize we have been receiving incessant rains in the past two weeks so there is more rain than the soil can absorb,” he said.

“The excess water quickly runs into rivers, overwhelming storm drains and ditches and causing a flash flood. Most cities, if not all cities are at higher risk for floods because rooftops funnel rainfall to the ground below, and paved surfaces such as highways and parking lots prevent the ground from absorbing the rain.

“The situation is illegal and has been worsened by people who are illegally settling themselves in unserviced areas without drainage facilities, roads and other amenities. Council teams have been on the ground since June last year unblocking blocked drains but people are littering every day hence it is a continuous exercise.”