Over 130 Plots Overgrown, Owners Urged To Urgently Clear Them
- Special thanks go to property owners in Helemisi Township
- Municipality only clears overgrowth on road reserves and public open spaces
The Municipal Council of Manzini recently conducted a citywide inspection of undeveloped plots and discovered that a total of 134 properties had overgrown vegetation. A large number were situated in Ngwane Park Township and Ngwane Park Extension (74) whilst the remainder were from a cross section of townships including Fairview North and South, Ntunja, Sikhunyana, Sterkstroom, Extension 19, Madonsa, Thomasdale, Extension 6, Extension 7, Ndumbu , Coates Valley and Mkhosi Township. Of the total, a total of 93 property owners have already been served with notices instructing them to remove the overgrown vegetation or be ready to answer before the Court of Law. A number of those that were written to have responded positively to the notices and cleared the overgrowth. The Municipality is grateful for that sense of cooperation. The Municipality also notes with much appreciation a good practice by some owners of undeveloped plots who constantly monitor their properties and remove vegetation overgrowth without being reminded to do so. Special thanks in this regard go to property owners in Helemisi Township as not a single plot was found overgrown during the inspection. That sense of responsibility is really commended and the Municipality calls on all property owners in the city to emulate it. Also noted is that there is a group of property owners who only remove overgrowth from their properties after having been contacted by the Municipality.
The willingness to comply is appreciated, however, the desire is for them to proactively clear the overgrowth without having to be reminded. They are urged to adopt it as part of their culture to regularly monitor the condition of their properties and thereafter take appropriate action. Rainfall and sunshine are the perfect feed for vegetation, therefore, more overgrowth is expected following the recent rainfall. Property owners are urged to proactively maintain their plots and not expect the Municipality to remove the vegetation on their behalf. The Municipality only removes overgrown vegetation on road reserves and public open spaces. The standard procedure on issues of vegetation overgrowth on vacant plots is that continued neglect despite notification from the Municipality results in the matter being taken to court. What has been observed is that some property owners ignore the notices from the Municipality and only remove the overgrowth when they receive a phone call from the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS), instructing them to come and collect court summonses. The Municipality urges them to change that attitude as it results in an unnecessary waste of resources.
…SOME DON’T EVEN KNOW LOCATION OF THEIR PROPERTIES
Incredible as it may be, the Municipal Council of Manzini has discovered that some owners of undeveloped plots neglect them to the extent they even forget where they are located. Several property owners, upon being contacted and reminded to remove overgrown vegetation from their properties, informed the Municipality that they had forgotten where they (properties) were located. They actually requested the Municipality to assist locate them. This is worrisome because it is an indication of neglect by the property owners. Further investigations on these revealed that the property owners do pay the due property taxes (rates) but do not know where the properties are located. The Municipality urges owners of property to familiarise themselves with the location of their properties so that they can be able to monitor and ensure they are well maintained. Beneficiaries of estate properties are also reminded that they have a responsibility to ensure those properties are well maintained, including removal of overgrown vegetation as and when necessary. Even when the estate has not yet been wound up, it is still a requirement that it be well maintained.
…YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED PERTAINING OVERGROWTH
QUESTION: What is vegetation overgrowth?
It is the growth of vegetation to non-acceptable levels. The maximum acceptable height for vegetation in any undeveloped plot is knee-height.
QUESTION: Why is the Municipality concerned about vegetation overgrowth?
Vegetation overgrowth can be both a nuisance and danger to neighbours as well as the surrounding community. All property owners have a responsibility to keep their properties neat and tidy at all times. A well maintained property or plot helps reduce crime. Overgrown properties end up becoming a hideout for criminals. Criminals also hide stolen goods in such properties.
QUESTION: What is the negative impact of vegetation overgrowth?
- It may promote breeding of pests and insects such as mosquitoes; thereby exposing neighbours to malaria.
- It may end up becoming a hideout for snakes and rodents; resulting in serious health risks for neighbours.
- Criminals find perfect ‘homes’ in overgrown plots; thus exposing neighbours and the community to criminal activity.
- Vegetation such as trees and shrubs tend to end up overhanging onto neighbouring properties; thus causing discomfort.
QUESTION: What does the Municipality expect from a vacant plot owner?
- Regularly monitor and maintain your plot.
- Cut grass and shrubs such that they are as short as possible (not taller than knee-height). If you need information on available grass cutting service providers, the Municipality can be able to assist with such information.
- Trim branches of vegetation so that they do not overhang onto your neighbour’s property. Remove all the remains of your cuttings after clearing.
- Removal of vegetation through burning is strongly prohibited as it can cause serious health risk to neighbours and can damage their properties. Open burning also poses a negative impact on the environment.
QUESTION: What are the consequences of not managing vegetation overgrowth on my property?
After Council has identified you as one of the non-compliant plot owners, you will be served with a first and second written notice giving you 14 days and 7 days, respectively, to remove the overgrown vegetation after which you will be served with a summons and ultimately hauled before the Court of Law as stipulated in the Public Health Act, 1969.