The government has warned that all those with houses and other structures along the coastline, in areas designated as forests and close to water sources such as lakes, rivers and dams risk legal action.
Dr Terezya Huvisa, Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Environment), sounded the warning yesterday after a week of grief experienced by people whose posh houses and fences were demolished for standing in the unauthorised areas.
“Those not heeding this order will face legal action, including having their houses pulled down, being evicted from the areas in question and having to cover demolition costs. This order also applies to farmers and livestock keepers going about their activities dangerously close to sources of water,” said the minister.
Dr Huvisa was commenting on last week’s demolitions carried out by her office in collaboration with the Home Affairs ministry, the Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development ministry, the Natural Resources and Tourism ministry, Kinondoni Municipal Council, and the National Environment Management Council.
She said the July 10 operation in Dar es Salaam’s exclusive Kawe and Mbezi suburbs was perfectly in line with the 2004 legislation on environmental conservation.
She noted that those whose houses were demolished had broken the law, clarifying that a total of 17 houses and eight fences were pulled down and that the countrywide exercise was meant to protect the community against the devastating impact of floods resulting from haphazard land use.
“Coastlines, rivers and small rivers must be left open to allow as much rain water to pass and thus forestall a repeat of what happened on December 2011 when several people died in floods in Dar es Salaam just because people had built and blocked Msimbazi River, severely constricting the raging headed for the Indian Ocean,” the minister elaborated.
She explained that disrupting water currents by bending rivers using soil was similarly against the 2004 Act, adding that those doing so would face the full wrath of the law.
Dr Huvisa also reported that a NEMC lawyer had reported receiving threats from several unidentified people, apparently in connection with the July 10 operation.
“This lawyer was once kidnapped and tortured by masked people who told him that he would be in deep trouble if the Kawe and Mbezi demolitions continued,” she said, warning that the government would not tolerate people or a group of people forming syndicates to sabotage the ministry’s activities.
Most of the houses pulled down last week stood at Kilongawima in Kunduchi Ward, while four were close to the banks of Ndumbwi and Mbezi rivers.
Sources said over 100 surveyed plots in the area are illegally owned and all houses built there are in an area reserved for mangroves and will be affected by the operation to enable water to flow freely into the Indian Ocean and facilitate the growth mangroves.