BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has been struggling to undertake or finish projects that are listed under the ward retention fund (WRF).
City fathers are blaming this on the unstable economic environment and failure by residents to pay utility bills.
An update by the BCC on WRF projects yesterday showed zero movement, and incomplete or abandoned development plans across the city’s 29 wards.
The WRF was set up in 2017 with about $1,6 million to be disbursed annually to each of the city’s wards for developmental purposes.
It is similar to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) where legislators are allocated funds by Parliament for various development projects in their constituencies.
With regards to the renovation of Jabulani and Vundu flats, the WRF progress report stated that there has been zero movement to date.
“Tendering was done. Responsive tender amounts were beyond the budgeted or available funds. The retender was advertised on 5 September 2021 and is due to close on 30 September 2021,” the report read with regards to Jabulani flats.
“Vundu flats renovations commenced, but were, however, suspended due to the contractor terminating/suspending the contract. Preparatory work on one hostel has been done.”
Some of the planned projects include the regravelling of roads, upgrading of Burombo flats, renovation of community halls, construction of individual household toilets in ward 13 and installation of street lights among others.
Bulawayo deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube commented: “The poor performance of the economy as seen in an unstable exchange rate is affecting council’s ability to undertake or complete some of the projects.”
“We are deeply concerned by the fact that the retention funds have lost purchasing power as a result of the country’s runaway inflation. If residents were paying on time and were also paying their bills in foreign currency, the council would have done better,” he added.
The WRF is a development scheme which entails setting aside 3% of all funds received from rates for developmental activities in the ward.
City fathers have been on record complaining about the fund’s inadequacy because of the economic challenges bedevilling the country.