GWANDA municipality says it has decided to convert a ground meant for recreation to a residential area, where flats will be constructed.
The local authority says it has decided to do so because the land is unutilised. The council also says demand for land by homeseekers was the major push factor in its decision to turn the sports ground into residential land. The municipality also says it will avail land for a sports field when the need arises.
While the council’s reasons sound plausible, if residents of Gwanda are serious about their welfare, they should resist this move because recreational facilities are key for any urban setting, especially now when the country is facing a drug and substance abuse crisis spawned by idleness among the youth.
Many of the country’s youths are currently idle because of a tanking economy and recreational facilities should play a key role in keeping them occupied.
So once those sports grounds disappear from the face of Gwanda, there is little to no guarantee that the municipality will ever find suitable land for recreational facilities in the future.
What is also quite curious about the municipality’s decision is that it appears the urban area in situated on an island surrounded by a deep ocean. We thought Gwanda was surrounded by huge tracts of farmlands, most of which are underutilised, and it would be prudent for the local authority to expand its territory into these open lands instead of clogging the town centre with buildings.
The town needs to breathe and open spaces such as sports grounds are meant to help urban areas breathe. We sincerely urge the municipality to reconsider this decision for the sake of its residents’ welfare and a sound environmental future for the town.
Does the town have a master plan? If it has one, it should inform the municipality on how to handle these seemingly uncritical issues of recreational facilities, which can, in fact, be sources of livelihoods for townsfolk, if well managed.
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This does not only apply to Gwanda, but to all urban set-ups in Zimbabwe where settlements such as growth points are fast growing into towns but without space specifically earmarked for recreation.
This is not only environmentally unwise, it is unhealthy for any urban set-up not to have recreational facilities given the many diseases that can easily spread among communities that are physically unfit.
After everything has been said and done, we actually believe that Gwanda should not be allowed to turn its sports grounds into residential areas.
The Local Government ministry should not allow this kind of shortsighted land use change.
Recreational facilities are equally important, if not more important, than housing, so it should be mandatory that every urban settlement have them.