By Blessings Chidakwa
Homeowners living on wetlands and the edges of streams yesterday recounted the experience they went through when their homes were flooded due to rising water tables and streams that burst banks due to high rainfall.
They were sold undeveloped stands on undesignated land by greedy land barons working in cahoots with some council officials from Harare and Chitungwiza.
President Mnangagwa — during his address to the nation last Wednesday — said alternative spaces have to be urgently identified and developed for relocation of families with houses built in wetlands and other undesignated areas.
The Ministry of Housing and Social Amenities, along with other ministries, departments and agencies, were told to identify such areas urgently and find out how many households needed to be moved.
A resident in Unit P Chitungwiza, Mr John Chakanyuka, sobbed while narrating the trauma his family went through.
“The rains flooded the whole house,” he said.
“It was above the knee level and we had to sleep on a wet bed as we had nowhere to seek refuge.
“All our stocked food recently bought after receiving salaries was spoiled and we are surviving at the mercy of well-wishers and we appeal for urgent food aid.”
Almost all of Mr Chakanyuka’s household property, including sofas, was badly damaged, including text books and stationery he uses as a teacher.
Mr Chakanyuka had no kind words for Chitungwiza Municipality as he showed his precast wall that was destroyed by the floods.
“It is so sad that council officials are busy collecting rates without offering any basic services like digging a drain,” he said.
“If there was a drain, my house would have not been destroyed.”
Mr Dickson Mudzviti, who rescued some of the flood victims, recounted his experience.
“The water was just too much and it flooded hundreds of houses in Unit P,” he said.
“Together with other well-wishers in the community, we spent hours trying to rescue people and shifting property to safer places, but we were actually afraid of being swept away by the rains ourselves.
“We encouraged each other to just be brave. I personally rescued two children via access of a window and the kids were very traumatised.”
Mrs Millanah Gondo, a tenant of a two-roomed house built along a stream bed between Unit K and Unit K Extension, said the degree of flooding was last experienced seven years ago.
“I did my education at Seke 7 Primary School and started renting here a few years back,” she said.
“It was terrifying as the water was all over the place and there was no way we could escape.
“The sad part is that the whole house was flooded, so I was stuck between a rock and a hard place since I also had to calm the children who were in shock.”
Mrs Gondo’s neighbour would not give his name said: “My car’s injectors and fuel tank were filled with water and its now undergoing maintenance. I am now forced to incur the burden of repairing it.
“At the same time the rains also destroyed the front part of my precast wall. Although the whole house was flooded, the property was not badly affected.”
A Zengeza 4 resident only identified as Mai Tino said it was a horrible experience.
“I spent days drying my property outside which was all soaked in water during the flooding,” she said. “Unfortunately, my television set is no longer working after it was affected by the water which burst into the house.”
Mr Obert Musonhi of 24681 Unit N in Chitungwiza had his precast wall valued at about US$300 destroyed.
Apart from flooding, the illegal parcelling out of residential stands on unsuitable land by land barons has affected the community in almost every aspect, including creating a health time bomb as most of the areas lack water and sewer reticulation.
During a tour by National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe in Budiriro in Harare, where houses were also flooded, it was noticed that there was risk of disease outbreaks due to lack of water and sewer reticulation system.
The unplanned settlements, which do not have addresses and street names, are becoming havens for criminals as it is hard for the law enforcement agents to trace them. The Herald