By Wallace Mawire
Harare City Council is conducting greening initiatives to retain Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, to its former status as the ‘Sunshine City’.
Harare City Council director of works, Engineer Phillip Pfukwa, told participants at a recent Zimbabwe Energy Council dialogue series on the green city concept initiative, that:
“City of Harare recognises the need for a green city and deliberately strives to provide for parks, active and passive recreational spaces and greenbelts and to preserve wetlands and other ecologically sensitive spaces.”
Harare is facing problems such as land pressure for residential stands developments, rural to urban migration and excessive littering in the city by “day trippers”. Other problems include urban and stream bank agriculture, wetlands destruction, deforestation and inefficient energy use.
Pfukwa said there are three fundamental priorities in urban planning which are: creating green cities, creating growing cities and creating just cities.
Local plans, town planning schemes and layout plans are used to zone and define conservation areas and ensuring balance among priorities of social equity, economic development and environmental sustainability.
Some of the greening initiatives Harare City Council is embarking on under the greening city concept include reviving the mass transit. This entails reducing the carbon footprint by minimising use of motorised transit systems by integrating industrial, commercial and recreational uses with residential development.
“Unfortunately the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that minimised the carbon footprint of the city faced viability challenges in the face of severe competition after deregulation of the public transport sector.
“City of Harare is courting suitable investors into the public transport for an efficient and effective BRT. This should result in modal share and reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere,” Pfukwa said.
Pfukwa said the Central Business District (CBD), mainly along First Street and Speke Avenue, has been closed off from all motorised traffic.
“More pedestrian walkways are being considered in the CBD, in order to promote cycling to work. City of Harare will rehabilitate all cycle tracks to ensure safety of cyclists. Most shopping malls in suburbia are planned with generous provisions of pedestrian malls,’ he
He said the city welcomes corporate players who want to partner Harare in greening streets and parks as their corporate social contribution to environmental sustainability.
“A number of such corporate social responsibility agreements are in place for greening of road islands, road verges and roundabouts,” he added.
The greening initiatives include upgrading of 6,400 units 250W HPS street lights to less than 100W LED lights by December 2019 under the solar street lighting project. He said that ±960KW have been completed off-grid. The city is also promoting the use of LED lighting with at least 3,000 streetlights having been upgraded.
The initiative is expected to upgrade 250W HPS to 100W LED by December 2017.The targeted consumption saving is 450KW.The project also aims to complete 2,500 twin fluorescent street lights upgrade of 80W to 40W targeted consumption saving.
The City of Harare and the European Union (EU) are jointly funding the construction of an 800-cubic metre biogas plant in Mbare high density suburb. The gas from the digesters will be used to power a 100kVA electricity generator.
Pfukwa said at least 20 tonnes of waste are generated per day at Mbare Musika, most of which is bio-degradable material. They hope to commission the project by September or October 2017. The biogas project aims to improve the health and hygiene standards in Mbare through access to clean and affordable renewable energy. The energy generated will be fed into the national electricity grid.
The City of Harare has also identified investment in a Waste-to-Energy plant at Pomona as a major component of its Integrated Municipal Waste Management Plan. The City and the surrounding towns of Chitungwiza, Norton, Ruwa and Epworth generate
approximately 1,000 tonnes of waste per day.
Pfukwa said the aim is to develop a waste-to-energy plant using available modern technology that will absorb municipal solid waste. He said pre-feasibility studies indicate power that will be produced will exceed 30MW.
Substantial volumes of gas form naturally as rubbish and refuse decompose over time. If the rubbish is not managed properly, the gasses escape into the atmosphere contributing to green house gasses which contribute to climate change.