Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
The Bulawayo City Council will soon engage the Government to restrict what they have termed the villagisation to a 40-kilometre radius away from the city.
According to the City of Bulawayo Master Plan for the years 2019 to 2034, which is on public exhibition until 3 January next year, the local authority noted that such a policy will slow down rapid rural population increase in the vicinity of Bulawayo so that its infrastructure and services are not overstretched.
The current Master Plan for Bulawayo was prepared in 2000 which was a review of the 1982 Master Plan, the first such plan produced in Zimbabwe under the then 1976, Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.
The Master Plan identifies to the west up to Hilda’s Kraal and Nyamandlovu, to the north Queens and Ntabazinduna, to the east Esigodini and to the south up to Figtree, areas that need villagisation controlled.
“Central Government should also ensure that basic social services like primary schools, clinics as well as community facilities like general dealer shops are established at these resettlement areas.
“The area within the 40km radius will be expected to support intensive and semi-intensive commercial agriculture such as irrigation, market gardening, small stock production (poultry, piggery, sheep and goats) and dairy farming,” reads part of the proposed master plan.
The local authority noted that where rural settlements already exist within the 40-kilometre zone, the responsible authority should ensure that there is no further expansion in terms of allocation of new plots.
“Intensive resettlement (villagisation) entails establishment of rural plots with homesteads, fields and grazing areas invariably in a relatively dense pattern. Usually there is a lot of environmental degradation caused by uncontrolled tree cutting, overgrazing resulting in erosion. However, where there is proper agricultural extension services resettlement can be averted.
“In terms of demographic sudden population increase require establishment of effective on-farm and off-farm employment in order to sustain livelihoods. But there is no formal employment in these areas and the resettlement beneficiaries are forced to migrate to nearby towns and cities to seek for jobs hence causing overcrowding and overburdening the urban social facilities,” reads the master plan.
The local authority revealed that they will be commissioning a detailed study to examine the land uses in the 40-kilometre zone, determining agricultural productive areas, suitability for future urban development.
The study will also deal with demographic and infrastructure issues considering local, regional and national aspects.
“A good research of the area surrounding Bulawayo will provide city council with necessary knowledge of opportunities and constraints for future urban development. Equipped with such knowledge the local authority and other stakeholders will be able to make appropriate decisions on the growth options of the city in the long term.
“The study should examine demographic, economic and infrastructure elements of the established 40-kilometre zone. This should analyse the existing economic activities such as agriculture and mining and determine those areas with a potential for urban development. Migration patterns, past present and future will form part of the demographic study,” reads the master plan.
The study will also develop and evaluate a number of growth options including general expansion, expansions along lines of communication and satellite towns.
Meanwhile, the local authority is set to open negotiations with the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) for the unused railway operational land stretching from Donnington to Luveve Road.
The council notes that patches of vacant pieces of land within this area could provide substantial amount of industrial land.
“In order to support a vibrant and sustainable local economy, it is imperative that the master plan makes provision for adequate land in varied locations to cater for the various economic activities, these areas are both within and outside the municipal boundary and it is ensured that they will be accessible to labour from various residential areas.
“Availability of suitable and serviced industrial and commercial land is bound to attract investment to Bulawayo and the local authority should develop attractive incentives for developers. The critical contribution of the informal sector to the local economy has been highlighted and as such it is appropriate that land be allocated for this activity.”
Other areas that have been identified for possible development for commercial and industrial stands are the 880 hectares of unused land in Umvumila stretching from EPZ site to siyephambili Drive, 240 hectares of proposed EPZ site along Airport Road and land sandwiched between Plumtree Road and the railway line running from Lanvale Farm to Hlekweni turn- off.
The local authority said the industrial areas of Hyde Park (Old Mutual site) and Umvumila (EPZ) need to be prioritised as they have been lying idle for many years although they are fully serviced and partially serviced respectively.
The Master Plan is presented as a land utilisation guide and framework which indicates how land resources in the planning area is best suited for which uses and how they should best be used and developed over the time frame of the plan.