Thupeyo Muleya-Beitbridge Bureau
Border towns are among the magnets for rural-to-urban migration, attracting many who believe they can earn a living from the millions of people who pass through Zimbabwean border posts each year, so local authorities in such areas must be capacitated to meet the community’s needs.
Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Abednico Ncube on Thursday last week toured outstanding housing projects in Beitbridge town in the company of National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe.
He said Beitbridge and Plumtree towns were the worst affected by ever-increasing services delivery demands with more people moving in.
Beitbridge now has a population of around 50 000 and Plumtree 8 000, with 7 million people passing through Beitbridge yearly and 2,9 million going through Plumtree.
Minister Ncube said local authorities in these areas were struggling to meet the demand for accommodation for both civil servants and ordinary citizens.
“Matabeleland South province has a unique challenge of housing provision,” he said.
“As you might be aware, the province has two major ports of entry and Beitbridge being one of the busiest inland border posts in Southern Africa.
“This puts immense pressure on the provision of services, particularly housing and social amenities for the transit population.”
Minister Ncube said within the 10 local authorities around the province, there was an excess of 40 000 people on the waiting list for housing, shopping amenities, and industrial stands.
He called on the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities to come up with strategies to address the problems facing local authorities in terms of reducing the huge housing backlog.
The province was also dogged with a number of challenges in delivering human settlements and the provision of social amenities was concerned.
“Some of these, include the shortage of land for urban expansion, equipment, and machinery to develop housing stands, as well as delays in approval processes,” he said.
“I do hope the Ministry of Housing will expedite the completion of the long outstanding Beitbridge housing projects and improve the plight of the many civil servants who are in dire need of accommodation.”
Government has now resumed work to complete the construction of 28 F14 houses and 16 garden flats to house 40 families’ of civil servants.
Those assigned the F14 houses are expected to occupy them in the next 30 days.
Minister Ncube said the completion of the Beitbridge Redevelopment Programme would bring relief to the community which has suffered years of acute accommodation woes.