Tanzania: Demolition Now Limited to Msimbazi Valley, Says Govt

 The government said yesterday it has reviewed the countrywide demolition exercise to avert a humanitarian crisis and excessive economic loss to residents and businessmen.
A statement released by the Vice-President's Office said the government has also rescinded its decision for a Dar es Salaam citywide demolition and instead limit the exercise to the Msimbazi valley.
Throughout this week, officials from the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) went around the city marking houses for demolition. On Thursday, 885 houses were marked in Pugu, Ukonga and Gongo la Mboto in the Ilala district.
"The demolition exercise will continue in the Msimbazi valley in a manner that will not cause much disturbance and harm to residents," the statement reads in part, adding: "And we have decided to limit this phase of the demolition to the Msimbazi valley only." This time around, the statement added, those having valid title deeds which they obtained from relevant authorities will only have their houses demolished after being offered alternative settlement.
Last week, some 600 Msimbazi valley residents rushed to court where they successfully got a court injunction to stop demolition pending the determination of the main case.
In the main application, the residents said they have been living in the area for more than 60 years, possessed valid residential permits and have been paying property taxes. They wanted the court to determine that they be given enough time to relocate and be offered compensation for the demolition of their property.
The government said in its statement yesterday it will respect court injunctions but will seek speedy court processes so as to continue with the demolition exercise.
"And civil servants who issued them those documents will be traced and taken to task for allowing people to build in areas that are not fit for human settlement," it added.
The demolition of houses built on open spaces and river valleys, which started late last year, met with severe criticism and complaints from various stakeholders, especially after it emerged that there were no plans to relocate the victims.
Sights of elderly persons and mothers cuddling their little children stranded in the rubble and surrounded by open sewers shocked many people and led to calls for a review of the process to avert a humanitarian crisis.
The victims also complained that the demolition affected even house owners who had proper and valid title deeds.
In the unsigned statement, the government said it would offer assistance to the victims who would be found to be stuck in the squalid conditions with nowhere to go.
Officials carrying out the demolition exercise who contravene the law and procedures will be immediately taken to task, the statement added.
"Houses and other buildings that were constructed well before the enactment of the laws being enforced now will be spared, except when they are located in areas unfit for human settlement.
Likewise hotels located too close to the ocean in the Masaki area will not be demolished but owners will be advised on how to protect the environment to prevent further environmental degradation and avoid natural disasters for their clients," the statement said.
Stakeholders' reaction
Various stakeholders were quick to react to the new government's move yesterday. Ali Mufuruki, a prominent businessman, commended the change of policy, saying it addressed most of the criticism, suggestions and complaints levelled against it by stakeholders and the victims. However, his concern is that the requirement that all property built within 60 metres from the beachfront should be demolished will adversely affect a lot more people while other mitigation measures could be taken to avert environmental problems.
As far as the ongoing demolition in river valleys is concerned, he said the government should use its experts to design better ways to fight floods, including cleaning the river valleys, building levees along the river banks, deepening the existing waterways and constructing new ones to ensure that the flow of water is controlled.
"We should be smart this time. We should use our experts and let them come up with plans that will ensure that water flow in the city is controlled," he said.
Yefred Myenzi, director of HakiArdhi also said he supported the government's review of the exercise but it was supposed to be done with a human face.
He wondered why the same policy had not been used before the exercise started. "This shows there weren't adequate preparations before the exercise," he noted.
"The government was supposed to form a team of experts from the beginning, who would have conducted a comprehensive analysis and advise the government on the real situation on the ground and how to approach the issue," he said.
He charged that the government's statement is counterproductive and waters down the message it has been so strongly sending from the beginning that the new administration is keen on enforcing the law, he noted, adding that the decision to spare the Masakai hotels that are situated within 60 metres is indicative of selective justice.
To avert further socio-economic losses, the government must issue a schedule that will enable people living in demolition-designated areas time to relocate, he noted.
Powered by Blogger.