More People Lose Homes: Demolitions Begin In Chirundu’s ‘Baghdad’

More People Lose Homes: Demolitions Begin In Chirundu’s ‘Baghdad’
Published: 2016 May 17 01:59:14 (1797 Views)
Chirundu Local Board has started demolishing makeshift structures where more than 2 000 people are living in squalid conditions amid an outcry that alternative accommodation has not been provided.

The phased demolition is targeting the holding area commonly known as Baghdad, where thousands of people live without proper sanitary amenities like toilets and clean drinking water.

Residents in the area use buckets and the nearby bushes to relieve themselves.

In interviews, residents said their living conditions were dire as they lacked basic facilities such as toilets.

“Our living conditions are not conducive for raising families because we have to relieve ourselves in the house as there are no toilets and water is not readily available. Most of the time we use the bush to relieve ourselves, which is not healthy,” said Josephine Taeremera who has been living in the makeshift settlement for the past six years.

Residents bemoaned the decision by council to demolish the houses without offering them alternative accommodation.

They are being asked to pay $600 as deposit for a stand after getting three months notice before demolition begins.

Chirundu board chairman Councillor Alois Chigayo said the settlement was illegal but shortage of accommodation had resulted in the moratorium.

“Baghdad is an illegal settlement but because there is a shortage of accommodation, we have had to tolerate the development,” he said.

“However, we will be demolishing the illegal structures in phases so that as we create accommodation, people from that area can be accommodated there.”

Tenants in Baghdad pay between $10 and $15 per month and this has made the area attractive for mostly prostitutes.

Some residents accused the board of charging high rentals and exorbitant prices for the stands.

“Everyone needs and deserves decent accommodation but the charges by our local board leave most people out as we are surviving on informal businesses like vending. This means that the dream to one day own a house is fast fading,” said Stembile Mutugwa.

Clr Chigayo said land was available for residential purposes and would soon be surveyed before development.

The Baghdad slum has been a dent on the country’s image especially for travellers passing through Chirundu into and from Zambia.




- Herald
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