The dormitory city of Chitungwiza recently unveiled its master plan after operating without one for the past 26 years. The last time the city of Chitungwiza had a master plan was back in 1996. A master plan is important as it is used by city councils to show which current and future areas of development have been officially approved by the city council in question. Master plans allow residents to easily see new and upcoming suburbs that the city council has officially approved allowing them to know if stands being sold in a given area are genuine or not.
A master plan would be an invaluable tool when it comes to combating the issue of illegal settlements that continue to plague both Chitungwiza and Harare. According to the statistics revealed by the Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs and Devolution secretary Tafadzwa Muguti there are an astounding 52 000 illegal settlements in the Harare Metropolitan province alone. 25 000 of these stands are in Chitungwiza while the rest of them, about 27 000 are located in various parts of Harare City.
One reason why illegal settlements have thrived in ignorance is the information gap that currently exists in the property market. Most residents lack the basic skills required to discern whether a given property development project has the relevant council's backing or not. Land barons who tend to be connected and influential members of society exploit this information gap by claiming to be selling council-approved stands only for the buyers to later learn that they were duped often when it is too late.
A master plan clearly shows all the areas in the city that are currently under development as well as areas that are in various stages of the development cycle. This allows residents to quickly see if the stand they want to buy is in an approved area. A master plan would be a cheap, efficient and effective way for councils to inform residents about official stands. Residents would not have to go through the pain of seeing their houses destroyed.
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