We are increasingly worried about the danger that aging trees pose to motorists and pedestrians in Harare.
It is a known fact that when trees get old, they become weaker, and as a result, they are more prone to falling during stormy rains or strong winds.
This problem is particularly acute in Harare, where we have an extensive tree cover that has been around for many decades. While we appreciate the beauty and environmental benefits that these trees provide, we cannot ignore the fact that they have become a ticking time bomb that threatens the safety of residents.
The risk posed by aging trees is not just hypothetical.
We just saw on Tuesday numerous incidents where trees fell and blocked roads.
They also fell on pre-cast walls destroying them.
If no action is taken, such incidents will become more frequent and more severe.
The solution to this problem is simple. Aging trees that pose a danger to residents must be cut down. This is not a radical or extreme proposal. It is a common-sense solution that is supported by science and experience. Trees, like all living organisms, have a life cycle.
They grow, reach maturity, and eventually decline.
Just like we replace old cars, appliances and buildings, we need to replace old trees that have reached the end of their useful life. It is not a matter of if we should do it, but when we should do it.
Critics of this proposal may argue that cutting down trees is a bad thing, that it destroys nature, and that it contributes to climate change.
These arguments are not valid in this context. We are not proposing to cut down all trees in Harare, but only those that are old, weak, and pose a danger to our people.
We are not destroying nature, but rather, we are managing it responsibly, so that it can continue to benefit us in a safe and sustainable manner.
We are not contributing to climate change, but rather mitigating its impact by reducing the risk of tree-fall incidents.
To be clear, we are not suggesting that we cut down all aging trees indiscriminately.
We are proposing a targeted and systematic approach that prioritises the most dangerous trees first.
This approach should be based on a comprehensive survey of all trees in the city, assessing their age, health, location and potential risk. Trees that are deemed safe should be left untouched, while those that are deemed risky should be cut down and replaced with younger, healthier trees.
The replacement trees should be chosen based on their suitability for the local environment, their attractiveness, and their ability to provide the same environmental benefits as the old trees.
The Harare City Council should allocate sufficient resources and personnel to carry out the survey, the risk assessment, and the cutting down and replacement of the trees.
The community should be informed and educated about the rationale, the process, and the benefits of this proposal, so that they can appreciate the need for it and support it.
This is not a matter of choice, but a matter of responsibility and duty.
We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to manage our environment in a safe and sustainable manner.