Concern over disused industrial space

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BULAWAYO Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube says her office is seized with identifying more working space for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as part of measures to ensure success of their businesses.

Early this year, a 17-member industry “think tank” was established in Bulawayo with a view of spearheading the revival of Bulawayo companies as well as advising Government on how to turnaround the fortunes of the city, which was once the country’s industrial hub.

Minister Ncube said her office has noted with concern that some of the city factories were lying idle.

“We would want to submit a report to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development highlighting that there are some factories in the city deserted for 15 or more years. Most of these factories’ buildings are now dilapidated due to lack of maintenance,” Minister Ncube said.

Bulawayo has suffered massive de-industrialisation, which saw more than 20 000 people losing jobs as companies in different sectors like clothing and textile, iron and steel engineering and manufacturing closed down.

“I tried to verify with the local authority the owners of the buildings and the city council has also responded that they also don’t know the owners of the industrial space. We would want the buildings to be occupied by SMEs who don’t have space to operate from.

These SMEs will then maintain the buildings which have become an eyesore that could scare away investors,” said Minister Ncube.

The Bulawayo industry think-tank, which comprises mainly business leaders, was set up following recommendations by captains of industry.

The think-tank is supposed to, among other responsibilities, gather information and identify problem areas that need to be addressed to facilitate revival of companies.

Minister Ncube said occupation of the vacant industrial space by the SMEs would be done within the confines of the law.

She said they were not grabbing the assets and in the event the owners show up, those occupying the buildings will vacate.

“At the moment we can’t allow these buildings to further decay when we have SMEs that can use them and maintain the buildings,” she said.–chronicle.co,zw

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