24 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Illegal Car Sales Face Closure

GOVERNMENT has ordered Harare City Council to close illegal car sales and garages by December 31 as it emerged that only one car sale out of 200 is licensed. Local Government, Rural and Urban

Development Minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday said council should publish, through a Press statement, all illegal car sales and garages by December 20.

He also instructed that illegal billboards and LED flashing screens be pulled down by December 31.

Minister Chombo gave the directives while updating the media on the outcome of an investigation of the council tender awarding process and allocation of space for car sales in Harare.

There are 200 car sales operating in the city, while 47 have lease agreements.

"Of the 47 car sales, three met town planning requirements and one is in full compliance with the licensing requirements," Minister Chombo said.

"The rest are illegal and have not been authorised by the City Council. The process of removing the illegal car sales should involve the police and should be preceded by vigorous publicity and advertising."

Minister Chombo said car dealers were erecting permanent structures on roadsides where some of them were now living.

"The majority of them lack ablution facilities. There is a need to put in place measures that are practical and institutional as it would avert resurgence of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid."

Minister Chombo said there should be tight and impeccable control of food vending conditions in urban areas.

"This implies effective enforcement of subsisting by-laws," he said.

Some car dealers yesterday accused the city's evaluation department of confusion and corruption.

They said the process of acquiring a licences was tedious.

"There are no clear laws on how to set up a car sale," said a car dealer trading along Bulawayo Road.

"For every process you carry out you have to fork out money and what worries most is that some council officials might mislead you that a certain piece of land is vacant when it is not."

Car dealer Mr Exavier Maoneke, who operates along Bulawayo Road, said the Government should give them a grace period to put their houses in order.

"This industry employs a considerable number of people and most of us are willing to pay, but where and who to pay is the problem.

"Minister Chombo should give us time to rectify our problems but we need clear direction from the city's evaluation department."

Harare Mayor Mr Muchadeyi Masunda said some car dealers were conniving with district officials to acquire land illegally.

"In a normal situation an application by anyone for land should go through various standing committees like land development, education, health and housing.

"All these things fall under the jurisdiction of the director of housing. Any land unaccounted for belongs to the city, but the proliferation of illegal structures you see is a result of people who work in collusion with some functionaries in our district offices," the mayor said.

"If you ask them where they got the permission to set up those structures they will show you letters from the district offices."

Mayor Masunda said people had been "cutting corners" for long and illegal car sales should go.

"We are the designate town planning authority and we know what should be where and why," he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Chombo has said all water treatment chemicals should be purchased directly from registered companies and agencies with capacity and specialised in water treatment chemicals manufacturing, supply or distribution.

"No more commodity brokers or middlemen," he said.

"There are underhand dealings as some companies disqualified for failure to meet set criteria or technical specifications were awarded tenders or contracts. Council is awarding a single tender on a single product to multiple suppliers who have different prices."

Minister Chombo said tenders that supply false information should be banned for five years.

He also appointed four special interest councillors to represent people with disabilities.

The move, Minister Chombo said, would enable views of disabled people to be heard in local authorities.

The four councillors, who were drawn from the Youth Advisory Board on people with disabilities, are from Harare, Bulawayo, Gokwe and Masvingo.

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