BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has turned down an application by a local private company to establish a cemetery adjacent to the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
The snub came after the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) lodged objections to the project.
A latest council report showed that the local authority received an application dated May 7, 2021 by Nondwene City (Pvt) Ltd to establish a cemetery adjacent to the airport.
The cemetery was going to be situated at Lot 4 of Subdivision A of Upper Nondwene, under land owned by the Nondwene City (Pvt) Ltd.
The application was circulated to various stakeholders such as CAAZ for feedback in line with provisions of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act.
CAAZ immediately shot down the application.
“The proposed cemetery is located within the red zone of the airport’s obstacle limitation zones. In this zone, land use is required to be limited to aviation-related business and/or agricultural business. A cemetery in this area would not be compatible with other recommended businesses and would not comply with business practice on developments around airports,” CAAZ’s objections read in part.
“The Airports Company of Zimbabwe, therefore, has reservations on the establishment of a cemetery on this location. Please ensure that any development in this area complies with development control requirements as defined in the Civil Aviation Act Chapter 13:16 and Civil Aviation Amendment Act number 10 of 2018.”
The Bulawayo city health department also shot down the proposal.
“It should be noted that in our African culture, cemeteries are sacred places of which to re-use such land would not be ideal.
“From a town planning perspective, airport was a prime development and there were certain industries which were complimentary to the same that might need land within the area earmarked for the cemetery. As such, the cemetery might not be in sync with such developments,” the council report reads.
“The land in question might also be required for the future expansion of the airport, of which if it had been utilised for a cemetery, it could not be then reclaimed immediately.”
Bulawayo has been battling a shortage of burial space following the decommissioning of West Park, Luveve, Athlone and Hyde Park cemeteries a few years ago.
Burials taking place at the decommissioned cemeteries are for reserved graves and in some instances, second interments.
At present, the local authority is operating three cemeteries, Athlone West, Luveve Extension and Lady Stanley. Lady Stanley is reserved for the city’s outstanding senior and prominent citizens.