By Rumbidzayi Zinyuke
Government has received a boost for the construction of houses for people displaced by Cyclone Idai last year, which will see the first batch of about 50 houses being constructed by the end of this year..
Cyclone Idai hit the Eastern parts of Zimbabwe on March 15 last year, and caused massive damage and loss of lives in Chimanimani and Chipinge, displacing thousands of people.
More than a year after the disaster struck, more than 200 families are still living in tents in Ngangu and Kopa in Chimanimani.
Pretoria Portland Cement Company (PPC) yesterday donated 1800 bags of cement valued at US$15 000 that will go towards the initial construction of about 30 houses to slab level.
The company has pledged to come back with additional support after the assessment of the first stage.
The remaining 20 houses are being funded by Government from a US$2 million fund released by the Chinese Government to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to expeditiously start working on the housing programme in Chimanimani.
Speaking at the handover ceremony for the cement, acting Manicaland Provincial Development Co-ordinator Mr Edgars Seenza said the support from PPC would help speed up recovery efforts for Chimanimani, which have taken too long to be completed.
“We had a number of well wishers who had promised to assist with the construction of houses for the displaced persons in Chimanimani but most of them were unable to fulfil their promises,” he said.
“The cement donated by PPC will be used by the department of Public Works to construct the foundations of some houses up to slab level commensurate with the cement we have received. We now need to work harder on projects like these, if it means channelling more manpower there, we will do it so that we move with speed.”
Mr Seenza said the houses being built in Westend were modern structures and the Government would establish an irrigation scheme which will be a source of livelihood for the displaced persons.
Government had originally availed land for the displaced people at Nedziwa growth point but later decided to move them to Westend Farm, where there is more land for agriculture activities.
PPC head of marketing and sales Mr Nkosana Mapuma said as a company they were moved to provide the most basic human need for the victims of the disaster.
“We are focusing on assisting the people in Chimanimani with housing after consultations with the Minister of Local Government who advised us that it was most urgent need for the victims of Cyclone Idai. The donation of 1 800 bags of cement will help to commence the rehabilitation programme, thereafter we will assess the progress and see the next step we can take,” he said.
He said the reconstruction of Chimanimani needed a collective approach and called on more partners to come forth to ensure those living in tents can move into houses soon and be protected against the Covid 19 pandemic.
“It pains us that during a time when we are faced with such a disease, there are people who do not have houses. How will they protect themselves? We felt that this has to be done now and with urgency so that they can have somewhere to hide from this pandemic,” said Mr Mapuma.
Department of Public Works provincial head engineer Tendai Chiwanza said the donation had come at a time when they had just started construction of houses for the displaced people and would help cover more ground.