Dar residents demolish own houses to give way for new Ruvu pipeline

15Jan 2016
Devota Mwachang'a
The Guardian
Dar residents demolish own houses to give way for new Ruvu pipeline

HUNDREDS of Dar es Salaam residents had voluntarily demolished homes and structures illegally built over a water pipeline built in 1976.

Hapless family members after the demolition of their houses

The Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (Dawasa) said "some people decided to build houses illegally on top of this old Upper Ruvu pipeline now that we are laying a new pipe, we have to demolish their houses without compensation”.
Dawasa on Tuesday threatened to pull down residential and commercial structures illegally built on the reserve, but when it dawned yesterday, the invaders started demolishing the structures themselves.
Dawasa was therefore prompted to delay the action, sources from the authority said.
At Kimara alone, almost 300 structures had been illegally built near the Dawasa’s storage tanks. Hundreds of similar structures had been built within the infrastructure stretching all the way from Mlandizi in Coast Region to tDar es Salaam , Dawasa said.
Speaking to this paper at Kimara Mwisho yesterday, 67-year-old Maria Mangweshi, who owns a business premise which doubles as residence said voluntary demolition was the best option
“The city bulldozers will leave only heaps of rubble which will be of no use,” she said. The mother of four, Mangweshi, had also alerted Tanesco technicians who were also at the site to safely disconnect power.
Another resident Semeni Ndumbo looked even more proactive. After learning of the looming demolitions by Dawasa, she began to remove the construction materials of her house on Monday lest the Dawasa bulldozers turn everything into debris.
All the blocks and corrugated iron sheets plus all house wares were safely kept out of the danger zone waiting for Dawasa to start its work .
The only problem is that, together with her family of seven including children and grand children, she now spends her nights in the cold.
Seif Saleh, who had been living in the area since the 1970s, was halfway in his attempt to construct his house before the worst happened.
Though he agreed that the structures are illegal, he laments the fact that it was inhumane to chase him away without any compensation living there for decades.
According to Dawasa, the demolition work will be continuous to ensure that all areas reserved for the construction of water infrastructures were used for the intended purposes.
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian on Wednesday, the authority’s acting Public Relations Manager, Mecktridis Mdaku,said hundreds of structures built on the water pipeline spanning from Upper Ruvu in Coast Region to the Kimara water storage tanks will be pulled down, noting that the firm would pay no compensation to the intruders.
She said the demolition work will be done by the authority in collaboration with the Kinondoni District Council in Dar es Salaam and Kibaha District Council in Coast Region.
Mdaku said a substantial number of people have constructed houses and business structures on the water pipeline, adding that such structures “are illegal besides the fact that the owners endanger their lives and safety of the water infrastructures.”
“People who have built structures, are conducting agricultural activities near the old water pipeline are required to leave seven metres on either side free of any human activity,” she explained.
Mdaku further said that the operation to clear the way is meant to ensure that the pipeline path remains open and also allows the laying of three new water pipelines to pass through the path of the old water pipelines which have 34 and 36 inches respectively.
“After the demolition of the structures, the authority will put in place beacons to ensure that people don’t invade the areas again … local governments will also have the responsibility to ensure that such areas reserved for the water infrastructures are not overrun again,” she insisted.
She said that a similar work was done last year to clear the way leave from Lower Ruvu in Bagamoyo to the water storage tanks at the University of Dar es Salaam.
Mdaku further explained that the clearance operation would also allow easy passage by water engineers during maintenance and future expansions.
“The reserved areas are crucial especially for expansion purposes because as we lay the new pipelines, we would need to compensate the nearby land occupants so as to pave the way for the project,” she elaborated.
Some structures along Bagomoyo Road were demolished to pave the way for the 54-km-long water pipeline stretching from the old slave town to the commercial city.
However the work has not been all that smooth as some owners were protesting to vacate their premises, saying they occupied the land legally.
Members of the security committee in Kinondoni District have urged the water body to address complaints of the property owners.
The project, which commenced in 2012 and was expected to be completed in 15 months, was delayed pending compensation to a number of residents affected by the project.
The project has so far attracted 17 cases at the Kinondoni Land Council and the High Court (Land) Division challenging the decision by Dawasa to implement the project.