CAAZ handed over disputed airport land

the herald

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Reporter

Land near Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, intended for future runways, was compulsorily acquired by the government a few years ago and cannot be acquired by anyone else.

The recent attempt to fence off part of the land by cement producer PPC Zimbabwe cannot be allowed, although the amount of compensation still needs to be settled, the government said yesterday.

For years there have been disputes over the land surrounding the airport which the government said was earmarked for expansion and as a result some houses on the land along Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Road were demolished in 2016.

Since then, further developments have been made despite the area being owned by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), the state entity that allocated the land after it was acquired.

PPC recently fenced off a portion of land a few kilometers from the airport.

The Harare Metropolitan Province Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Decentralization, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti, said yesterday that the government had compulsorily acquired the land from PPC and handed it over to CAAZ.

“We also have residents complaining about the area which has been fenced off by PPC. There was a judgment where this land was automatically acquired by the government. However, the government did not compensate at the time of acquisition. But this does not mean that the land reverts to the PPC because once the government has fully bought the land and taken possession of it, then it is handed over to the authority.

“In this case, this land was acquired and transferred to CAAZ, as such it is part of the development of the airport,” he said.

He said a stakeholder meeting held with the Police, Ministry of Local Government and Works Special Planning Unit, CAAZ, Airports Corporation of Zimbabwe, Airport Management Agency environment and the city of Harare last week agreed that any development taking place within the airport grounds was not deemed to have taken place, according to the Civil Aviation Act and the Society Act airports in Zimbabwe.

Mr Muguti said plans from 1976 showed the area had been set aside for a second runway for the airport, therefore it had always belonged to CAAZ.

“As things stand, PPC does not have the authority to fence off this area. We have met with all the stakeholders and what remains is the discussion between the PPC and the government of Zimbabwe for compensation; but this land is designated for the airport and Civil Aviation is ready to start making plans to install a runway there,” he added.

He also said that all developments and houses being built in the area were considered illegal and therefore construction should be halted.

“We have red, yellow and green zones and, as is the case now, most of the developments between February last year and today are all in the red zone, which means that they are prone to disasters.

“Any development in this area must be specifically aligned with the functions of an airport, which is why we do not want people to occupy this land. We are approaching all courts and all houses in the red zone will be demolished. The law is the law,” Mr Muguti said.

He said no other cemetery would be allocated land in the area as there were suspicions that the materials used in the current graves at Zororo Memorial Park could interfere with aerial operations.

Mr Muguti said CAAZ had been instructed to start putting up billboards on all borders to make sure people knew that land beyond the billboard was not available for occupation.

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