Chimoio Flats where decent life is a pipe dream

residents_at_chimoio_flatsMUTARE - Two bins serve as refuse disposal points for the hundreds of residents staying at these flats in Sakubva High Density Suburb here known as Chimoio. (Pictured: Residents at Chimoio doing their laundry)

The place is surrounded with slimy rubbish, serving as a pantry to swarms of flies. As many as five families, an estimated 20 people, occupy the one-roomed apartments, which were built during the colonial era to house bachelors that came to work in the city. Two separate blocks serve as both toilets and bathrooms for the occupants of these flats, which has the same name as one of the cities of neighbouring Mozambique.

Occupants fetch water for bathing and other domestic use from a leaking pipe, where water runs incessantly day and night. This pipe is the sole source of water for residents since the removal of taps by council as a water rationing measure during the historic 1991-1992 drought. These pipes were never replaced including others that were stolen and vandalized.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean Beauty Matondo said:”The suffering here is too much. The lack of lighting in the toilets and bathrooms means we cannot wake up early to catch buses to our workplaces lest gangsters will pounce at us. Women usually use one tap, meant for washing hands after using the toilet, do laundry, cooking and to bath.” She said the lights had not been repaired for the past five years.

She said recently robbers attacked a resident who had visited the bathroom at night. She said this was despite that residents were paying rent, including water and electricity charges to council.

The occupants pay supplementary charges and water rates for US$20.00 or more depending on the usage.

Matondo said the flat, located near Maoresa Night Club, had become a haven for prostitutes.

“The prostitutes show off the monies and presents they get from their clients and this has influenced our daughters to engage in prostitution. The bad part is that these prostitutes do their work in broad day light.What lessons will our children learn?” said Matondo.

Matondo who lives with her husband and four children, the youngest being seven years, is now renting a separate apartment for their 19-year-old son.

James Makoni and Sailas Jambo of Johanne Marange Apostolic Faith sect consider themselves fortunate for occupying a room by themselves and their four sons.

Jambo sent his two wives and six children to their rural home.

“Were it not for that, I was going to live with all of them in this cubicle of an apartment regardless of the very poor ventilation of the houses,” he said.

The flats have one small window each.

Most residents staying at the flats stopped using their paraffin stoves for fear of causing fires. This forced occupants to construct 15 mud stoves outside to cater for the hundreds of residents, who take turns to prepare meals.

“We are living another life here. I do not know whether the City Fathers are aware of our plight,” said Matondo.

The Mayor of Mutare Brian James said Mutare City Council was aware of the situation and said the local authority was concerned.

“But, as council we are affected by the economic situation currently prevailing in the country. The non-full implementation of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) has affected us because the credit lines are not being opened. We want to embark on large scale housing projects in the city, but this is a problem that we are not going to solve easily unless the terms of the GPA are fully implemented,” said James.

He said some international investors wanted to invest in the city, but they were holding back their initiatives until the GPA is fully implemented.

The Mutare-Haarlem city link has embarked on housing projects that are set to alleviate the problem of housing in the city.

“The link has identified 220 stands in Hobhouse over the past year. We hope that this will reduce the housing backlog. Council has made it a resolution to make sure that the accommodation problems are resolved,” said James.

Hobhouse is a new residential area situated about 15km west of Mutare City centre.

Besides Hobhouse, the Mutare city council is currently identifying tracts of land that are expected to accommodate thousands of home seekers. The Mutare City council housing backlog is currently standing at 50 000.

The Mayor said the city had embarked on a city master plan that is set to solve the accommodation problems in the city very soon.

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