MUTARE will be double its size in the near future following the long awaited Government approval on the new master plan that will enable the eastern border city to expand towards Riverside, Arda Transau, Penhalonga and Zimunya, The Manica Post has learnt.
The city now has an additional 15 000 hectares of land at its disposal.
Currently, the city is sitting on 16 700ha against a fast growing urban population of over 189 000 people, according to the 2012 census.
City of Mutare spokesperson, Mr Spren Mutiwi, confirmed the approval of the new master plan.
“This a major breakthrough considering that the local authority had ran out of land for development and expansion purposes. Now that the approval has been made, we are moving to meet the legislative requirements of advertising within the stipulated period.
“Thereafter, documents will be taken back to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works for signing again. In the meantime we are working on the implementation matrix of the new master plan.
“This is good news to all of us and it is in line with our vision of becoming a prime investment destination by the year 2030, which is also in sync with Vision 2030,” said Mr Mutiwi.
He said the local authority is now mindful of the fact that land is a finite resource, hence the need to use it meticulously.
“With the new master plan, focus is to ensure that our smart city concept takes root as we roll out orderly development. Mutare City will never be the same again. The additional 15000ha will be the engine for the establishment of a new city.
“With devolution in motion, this development will definitely position the provincial capital to lead as the pacesetter,” said Mr Mutiwi.
The city has exhausted its in-fill stands and other open spaces to clear a bloated housing waiting list surpassing 100 000.
Over the years, lack of land has seen the expansion of Mutare into nearby rural communities, a move that has disrupted communal life as families that have big plots in Dora and Zimunya are selling huge tracts of land to those seeking residential properties.
Peri-urban areas such as Mutasa, Vumba and Chigodora are also being targeted b urbanites.
Houses have been built on pastures, while maize fields have been turned into shopping malls.
In 2014, Mutare’s city fathers declared land bankruptcy and made frantic efforts to get into a land swap deal with the Government.
The deal would have seen the local authority ceding Meikles Park in the central business district in exchange for State land measuring 188 000ha, stretching from Dangamvura Link Road to Fern Valley Turn along the Chimanimani Road.
However, the deal was stalled by endless court battles over the ownership of Meikles Park.
During the same year, City of Mutare engaged some technical specialists — ARUP — and they were advised to remodel using the cost effective multi-noddle approach which entails the construction of satellite shopping centres dotted across the city to reduce traffic congestion in the CBD and boost employment creation in the respective residential areas.
According to ARUP, road infastructural develpment in spread-out cities is expensive as the residential areas and the CBDs are too far apart.