George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Government has given Chivi Rural District Council the nod to start preparations for the development of a Smart City at Chibi Turn-Off Business Centre, in a move expected to attract investment to the place in line with Vision 2030.
This follows the gazetting of Chibi Turn-Off as a business centre by President Mnangagwa in 2018.
Chivi Rural District Council intends to make the business centre a smart city with modern infrastructure such as high-rise buildings, tapping on its location as a transit route along the busy Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway, while also serving as a gateway to other big cities such as Gweru and Bulawayo.
The planned city is expected to accrue benefits from its proximity to Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, which is Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body, billed to soon become the nerve centre of a massive irrigation development drive in the Lowveld.
Chivi RDC chief executive Mr Tariro Matavire disclosed that plans were at an advanced stage to change the face of Chibi Turn-Off.
“We are working with various other players and Government departments in drawing up the plan for the smart city and a lot of ground has been covered towards that,” he said.
“Besides the Department of Physical Planning, we are also working with entities such as zesa and zinwa to come up with the land use plan for the envisaged city.
“Once work on the land-use plan has been completed, we will then seek the final approval of the director of physical planning after which actual work to build the smart city will start.”
Mr Matavire said council wanted modern buildings such as shopping complexes to dominate the planned new city.
“We have already identified a financial institution that we will be working with on the smart city project, but it will be premature to disclose that now save to say that we expect modern shopping malls and other facilities to be built at Chibi Turn-Off and we are confident that it will happen fast,” he said.
Chivi RDC will engage existing business operators at the business centre to find ways of upgrading their facilities to befit the new status of a Smart City.
Mr Matavire said there was huge potential for the business centre to rapidly expand mainly because of the nearby Tugwi-Mukosi Dam.
The gazetting of Chibi Turn-Off as a business centre two years ago saw surrounding communal lands, straddling about 1,5km to the west being incorporated under the settlement.
Government further spiced up plans to open the smart city by upgrading the 48km Chibi Turn-Off (Tokwe)-Mhandamabwe Road to improve accessibility and allow speedy movement of goods and humans.
This will expedite the growth of Chibi Turn-Off, with some investors at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam expected to scramble for land at the fledgling urban settlement.