THE Bulawayo City Council is compiling a database of illegal stream cultivators from the city’s suburbs to determine the extent of the practice, it has been learnt.
Following the onset of the rains last week, some residents in most urban areas have been busy cultivating undeveloped land, they allocated themselves, to grow crops in defiance of council by-laws.
According to the Bulawayo City Council’s Act 12/73 (Protection of Lands and Natural Resources) by-laws of 1984, cultivation of undesignated areas is prohibited and discouraged.
However, repeated calls by the local authority for residents to stop cultivating in open spaces without authority have been ignored.
The local authority’s public relations officer Bongiwe Ngwenya said council did not know the number of residents practicing urban farming and a survey would be conducted.
“We currently do not have the exact number of illegal stream-bank cultivators,” she said.
“We are in the process of compiling the statistics.
“We note that people still carry out the activity despite several calls that it’s an illegal activity.”
The council regularly publishes notices warning residents against cultivating on undesignated land, saying crops grown in such areas would be destroyed and perpetrators fined or prosecuted.
Last year, the local authority, however, did not follow through on threats to slash crops cultivated on undesignated land.
The council occasionally gives a nod to co-operatives that would have made formal applications.
Ngwenya said areas most affected by illegal cultivators were Mazwi Stream, Richmond, Entumbane, Emakhandeni, Cowdray Park, Luveve, Magwegwe West and North, Old Pumula, East and South, Nkulumane 5-12, Tshabalala Extension, Nketa 6-9, Emganwini, Sizinda, Mpopoma Mashasha, Njube, Romney Park, Parklands, Sauerstown, Queens Park West, Mahatshula, Hillside, Bradfield, Barham Green, Morningside, Brady Barracks along Harare Road, pegged stands at Emhlangeni, Sidojiwe and Thorngrove stream.
Ngwenya said in the event of raids on cultivators, they would be fined and tools confiscated — with a hoe attracting a fine of $7, a wheel barrow $35 and a $150 for a tractor.
If the tools would not be claimed, the local authority said it would reserve the right to sell them.