Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NEMC DEMOLISHES HOUSES AMID TIGHT SECURITY



By Geoffrey Nyang’oro



The Citizen Correspondent


Dar es Salaam.Several structures were yesterday demolished at Mbezi Beach and Mndumbwe areas in efforts aimed to save from damage mangroves and tributaries feeding the Indian Ocean. The exercise that saw 15 houses and eight wall fences demolished started at 8am till late in the afternoon.


It was jointly coordinated by the environment division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, National Environment Management Council (NEMC) and Kinondoni municipal authorities, and left tens of hundreds of families homeless.


The three authorities reportedly issued notices three years ago to people who have constructed houses in the area to vacate but they resisted doing so, much to the detriment of the mangroves and tributaries.


The demolition of the houses was made by Majembe Auction Mart under the watchful eyes of heavily armed members of the anti-riot police squad led by the Kinondoni regional police commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Charles Kenyela. The police were armed to the teeth with hand grenades, sub-machine guns and a water cannon ready for any eventuality. As the demolition began occupants of the houses were seen struggling to save whatever property they could lay their hands on.


Some of the occupants could not hold their tears as they tried to salvage their belongings. These included beds, mattresses, television sets and cooking utensils. A resident in the area, Rev George Makala of the Dar es Salaam Christian Church, termed the demolition as inhuman, saying that occupants of the houses were given a short notice to vacate.


Speaking shortly after his house was bulldozed to the ground, he said the action resulted in the loss of property worth millions of shillings. “If they allowed us to move our property we could not have incurred such untold losses,” lamented the cleric.


He said the minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Prof Anna Tibaijuka, and the MP for Kawe (Chama Cha Maendeleo na Demokrasia), Ms Halima Mdee had assured them that the area was not earmarked for environmental conservation.


“As we were waiting for the minister’s official position on staying in the area we were shocked when we woke up on Sunday and found demolition signs placed on our houses,” said Rev Makala. He said residents in the area were consulting their lawyers to see how they would handle the matter.


However, some people who spoke to The Citizen commended the government move, saying it was high time this country was governed by the rule of law. One of them, Mr Samuel Raiza, said demolition of the structures was an indication that nobody was above the law.


“This action by the government has made me happy because most houses that have been demolished belong to bigwigs,” he said. At the Mbezi River a wall built near the river as a fence for seven houses was also demolished.
The NEMC lawyer, Mr Manchare Heche, mentioned people (names withheld) who have acquired plots in the area despite the government’s move to protect the area for environmental reasons.


He said a posh house near Mbezi River could not be demolished yesterday because the owner had sought a court injunction constraining authorities to do so. A senior official with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Ms Zawadi Mbwambo, said the demolition will be a continuous exercise. She said all structures built within 60 metres from the sea will be demolished because their construction was illegal.


However, analysts doubted the government’s pledge to demolish such structures, saying several hotels have been built within 60 metres from the sea but were operating untouched.Ms Mbwambo said construction along the river banks feeding the ocean was among reasons that led to floods last year.

THE CITIZEN

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