Council to establish independent town planning department

Source: Council to establish independent town planning department | Sunday News (local news)

Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has set in motion plans to expand the city with councillors endorsing moves to separate the city’s town planning department from the engineering services department as they work towards decentralising and decongesting the Central Business District to create new business centres and markets.

A couple of weeks ago the local authority revealed they were in the process of buying farms on the outskirts of the city to expand the boundaries and meet the accommodation needs of the growing population. The city aims to avail housing opportunities for more than 125 000 residents on the city’s housing waiting list.

As per the local authorities 2020–2024 strategic plan and vision, the city aims to be a leading smart transformative one in the region and beyond with need for continuous planning in urban renewal and regeneration. According to a council confidential report the original motion was moved by Ward Five councillor, Felix Mhaka a couple of months ago before it was referred to council’s human capital department for a work study assessment report.

Up until the recent moves, the town planning department fell under the director of engineering services, Engineer Simela Dube, who according to the report was now being overwhelmed with other key duties within his department which include water, sewer reticulation and the city’s roads section.

“Town Planning deals with the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications and distribution networks. The goal of town planning is to guide for development of a city or town and safeguard the environment so that it furthers the welfare of the current and future residents by creating convenient, reputable, healthful, efficient and attractive environments,” reads the report.

It was further noted that there was a vast functional difference and professional background between the director of engineering services (engineer) and the deputy director responsible for the town planning section.

“The director of engineering services is overwhelmed with the mandate to provide continuous potable water to the residents without compromising on safety and well-being of the ratepayers. This is over and above the maintenance of passable road network, public safety and security through an efficient public lighting system.

“Further, the City of Bulawayo’s 2020-2024 strategic plan and vision of a leading smart transformative city requires that the city invests more in planning continuous urban renewal and regeneration,” reads part of the report.

Meanwhile, the local authority has given the greenlight to the recruitment of additional personnel in the health services department and the education section, noting that there was a need to increase the authorised establishment with the growing needs at its clinics owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase of pupils at council owned schools.