6 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Illegal Car Sales Demolished

HARARE City Council says it will not rescind its decision to demolish illegal car sales and garages while those re-erecting the structures will be prosecuted. Council officials yesterday demolished illegal car sales around the city ahead of the December 31 deadline set by Government.

They also towed away vehicles they found at the sites.

Government issued the directive after it emerged that only one car sale out of the 200 dotted around Harare was licensed.

Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo ordered council to publish, through a Press statement, all illegal car sales and garages by December 20.

Council spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi yesterday said by December 31, all illegal car sales would have been pulled down.

"We have started our clampdown on the illegal car sales and we are not going to spare anyone.

"Those without required papers should not waste time, but vacate those places before we pull down their infrastructure and tow away their cars."

Mr Gwindi warned car dealers who continued displaying their cars at sites.

"There are some people who have a tendency of re-erecting pulled down structures while others are selling the cars at open spaces on the banned sites.

"In the event that we find such practices, we will not hesitate to arrest such people as we are working with the police. We have a deadline to meet and we are not going back."

Most of the demolished structures are along Enterprise Road, Mutare Road and Prince Edward Road.

Mr Gwindi said the door was still open for car dealers to regularise their operations.

"All car sales should meet town planning requirements and licensing requirements.

"There is still room for them to have the necessary paperwork and they know the offices to visit," he said.

Of the 200 car sales operating in the city, only 47 have lease agreements while three met town planning requirements and one is in full compliance with the licensing requirements.

Some car dealers erected permanent structures on roadsides and most of them lack ablution facilities.

The crackdown on the illegal car sales has unmasked cases of suspected corruption within council's evaluation department with some dealers saying they paid money to council officials for the sites.

"The officials have misled us and they have also taken our money," said a car dealer along Enterprise Road.

Some claim to have paid over US$2 000 to the council officials.

"We want to have the licences, but after going through such an experience, it is now difficult to know who to approach because we lost our money in council offices."

Some car dealers said there were no clear laws on how to set up a car sales business.

Others demanded a grace period and said they would petition Minister Chombo.

"Minister Chombo might not be aware of what is happening within the city council hence our need to approach him," another dealer said.

"This is where we get our food from and we are willing to regularise our operations."

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

He said 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.

City officials are also pulling down illegal billboards and LED flashing screens that have been blamed for causing accidents.

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