BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is failing to service more than 2 000 pre-sale residential stands that were bought more than two years ago.
The local authority in 2012 introduced a scheme to pre-sale residential stands, with the programme delivering 3 325 stands by 2017.
However, council says, economic challenges saw the programme being halted in 2018, with Covid-19 worsening the situation.
This, including water crisis induced diarrhoea outbreak which has led to the death of 13 people, infecting nearly 2 000 are among issues that have punctuated Mayor councillor Solomon Mguni-led council since the 2018 harmonised election.
Bulawayo residents are enduring a 144-hour weekly water shedding exercise as water levels at the city’s supply dams have dropped to 24 percent, although Government is working on several projects to improve delivery of bulk water to the city.
In a statement yesterday to mark two years of his tenure Cllr Mguni said the period has been characterised by both positive and negative issues including death of two councillors (Happy Ncube Ward 28 and Ronnia Mudara Ward 8) and the removal of Deputy Mayor Tinashe Kambarami from his position.
Cllr Mguni said council has started selling stands in forex to service the pre-sold stands.
“While the project started very well up to 2017 where a total of 3325 stands were delivered, 2018 saw teething problems grinding to a halt nine running projects with a total of 2225 stands. Only one project was successfully delivered in 2020, Selborne Park with a total of 77 stands. These stands were sold to those with access to foreign currency. The proceeds from the project were also used to procure imported materials such as bituminous materials to complete all the 10 projects,” said Cllr Mguni.
“The projects were affected by volatile economic environment which saw contractors demanding hard currency as early as March 2018. In addition, contractors frequently increased prices in an unpredictable manner, while erratic supplies of diesel also impacted negatively. Certain construction components e.g bitumen, explosives etc that were imported made it difficult to finish the project.”
He did not state the amounts that were involved in the buying of the stands and how much it would have cost the council to service them.
The Mayor said while Covid-19 has brought a lot of negative developments, it has led to council refurbishing Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, that the local authority had struggled to do since 2007.
The hospital is one of the designated Covid-19 treatment centres and renovations of the main isolation ward are 97 percent complete.
“In earnest refurbishments began on 22 April 2020 with Government funding spurred by Covid-19 pandemic. The main isolation ward is now 97 percent complete. To date Z$39 million has been committed with an expenditure of Z$33m disbursed. However, about Z$95m is still required to complete the full upgrade as has always been desired by council. To this end, only 37 percent is achieved in overall refurbishments,” said the Mayor.
He said there is also a serious backlog in road rehabilitation projects due to deferred maintenance programmes which is attributed to lack of funding for decades.
The main sources of funding for road infrastructure has traditionally been Government allocation, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and revenue accruing to council. Year on year, budget allocations have compared unfavourably with funding considered adequate to maintain road network. As a result, the road network has continued to deteriorate due to the gap between maintenance requirements and funding, he said.
The Mayor said economic challenges have also resulted in little progress being made in the multi-million-dollar Egodini Mall project, which has missed its deadline which was initially set for 2019.
He said introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar and currency volatility where contractors were making quotations lasting for maximum of two weeks made it difficult to develop the project.
Cllr Mguni said the prevailing water crisis has also seen the Fire Brigade department failing to attend to some fires. —chronicle.o.zw