Peeling off paints, cracking walls, broken down sewage pipes at times leaking raw sewage, are some of the unpleasant sights in the city of Harare.
Some buildings in the city centre condemned by Harare City Council recently for various reasons as they are no longer fit for human habitation, continue to be used in their current state.
This time, God knows if the city’s call for property owners and business operators in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) to start renovating their structures to improve the ambience of the city as part of efforts to restore its Sunshine City status, will be heeded.
If accepted, it will improve the city’s competitiveness, which in the past decade had been eroded by high traffic volumes, dirt, unregulated vending as well as the menace from illegal transport operators popularly known as mushika-shika.
City of Harare corporate communications manager Michael Chideme, said the authority was serious about improving the outlook of the city, which is also key in promoting city tourism and other forms of investment.
Already, work had begun towards cleaning up the city with milestones made in roads markings as well as removal of illegal vendors from the CBD.
Chideme said, it was incumbent upon property owners and businesses to enhance the outlook of their buildings to compliment efforts being made towards improving the city.
“If you look around the city, most buildings are dilapidated, they need new painting, the roofs and gutters need repainting. The city is writing to all property owners to take advantage of the order that is obtaining in the city to spruce up their buildings; we are talking of order in terms of removal of pirate taxis and illegal vendors,” said Chideme during a road markings programme by the city’s parking unit.
“They can do this and reposition themselves for bigger business. If they fail to do so, the city has it within its statute powers to repaint the building and charge the costs to the property owners.
“They can also use by-laws to remove anyone doing illegal businesses by their doorsteps,” said Chideme.
The country’s CBDs have suffered infrastructure deficits, which market watchers said deterred investors as they shy away from the “decay”.
The city centres, especially the capital Harare has suffered massive decay on the back of increase in illegal activities such as vending on pavements and roadways, illegal transport services, congestion and general uncleanliness.
Burst water pipes, electricity power cuts contributed to the unattractiveness of the CBD which has also been a contributor towards scaring away investors as well as tenants from CBD properties.
According to results released by listed property firms, there has been a gradual decline in occupancy levels in commercial properties in the CBD as tenants move to suburban offices as well as office parks that are cleaner, quieter and congestion free.
This is in addition to search for cheaper rental options elsewhere but the CBD.
As such there have been calls for regeneration of the city centres, which should start with the enforcement of existing by-laws.