Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
BULAWAYO has started to reap the benefits of Devolution funds, with projects valued at more than $34 million having already been completed in the city.
The city has also further benefited just more than $62 million through a special grant, also from Central Government, that has been channelled towards the city’s health sector, mainly the city’s Covid-19 response plan.
Government allocated Devolution funds to be shared among the 10 provinces based on a number of factors such as poverty levels in all rural districts, quality of infrastructure and the size of the population.
Most provinces have started using the funds for construction of schools, clinics and roads, among other projects aimed at facilitating development.
In a report on the Devolution projects that have so far been undertaken from last year to date, Bulawayo provincial development co-ordinator, Mr Paul Nyoni revealed that seven major projects had since been completed which have aided the city in various service delivery spheres ranging from water and sewer reticulation to the construction of a school.
Last year the city went through one of its worst water crisis in recent years which saw some areas going for over nine months without any supplies with one of the problems, besides the drought season, being attributed to the obsolete infrastructure.
“At Vulindlela Primary School in Cowdray Park, almost $10,2 million was provided for the construction of two classroom blocks, caretaker’s house, toilets, septic tank and boundary fence. This work is now complete. Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has identified further needs at the school and another bid has been made for seven more classroom blocks, and Early Childhood Development blocks.
“For the rewinding of Motors for Fernhill Pump Station, Government provided $5,4 million for this project which is now complete and commissioned. At Aiseleby one and two Treatment Plants Rehabilitation, Government provided $3,95 million for the project which involved the procurement of 35 pumps from South Africa and installation. The work is complete,” said Mr Nyoni.
Still on improving the city’s water reticulation system the funds were also directed to the supply of Vacuum
Contactors at Fernhill Pump Station where $500 000 was provided for the supply of these contactors.
“There was also the installation of Soft Starters at Inyankuni Pump Station, where $2,1 million was provided for this project which is 100 percent complete. $400 000 was provided for the supply and fix of Pressure Reducing Valves, orders were placed with a South African company and delivery is awaited.
The main challenge has been the lockdowns in South Africa. At Matshobana Sewer Outfall Rehabilitation, $3 million was provided for the rehabilitation of collapsed sewer pipes, the project is complete,” said Mr Nyoni.
The PDC further revealed that $9,3 million was provided for the construction of 40 meter wide carriageway and associated drainage structures, signage, humps, and junctions for a 2,2-kilometre road in Cowdray Park.
In terms of special grants the city has to date received $38 million for the rehabilitation of Thorngrove hospital.
“The money was used for the rehabilitation of the female, male and children’s wards, as well as purchase of equipment for Covid-19 patients.
“The project is 98 percent complete and Thorngrove hospital admits Covid-19 patients now. Further requirements have been identified and fresh bids have been made for what will be referred to as phase two.
For Covid-19 Recurrent Expenditure $6,67 million was allocated for food, utensils and other needs for people in Covid-19 quarantine, while $4,5 million was provided for Covid-19 Frontline Staff Allowances,” said Mr Nyoni.
Commenting on the positive impact the Devolution funds have had in the city, Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said while the money may not be enough, and disbursement at times comes in drips, the support by Government through the Devolution funds and special grants has come in handy to complement council’s internal resources.
“Our priority has been to equalise and uplift those areas where we had deficiencies in amenities and social services.
If you look at Cowdray Park, we have been able to set up a school, Vulindlela Primary school to service that area which for many years have been behind. With these funds we have also been able to bridge the gap in sewerage and water infrastructure,” said ClrMguni.
In his 2021 budget projection, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $19,5 billion for the Devolution funds.
Devolution is enshrined in the 2013 Constitution, but its implementation began in earnest with the coming in of the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa when growing sums were budgeted to top up the funds local authorities raise themselves to fund essential infrastructure in their areas.
According to the National Public Infrastructure Investment Programme for 2021 document crafted by the Finance and Economic Development Ministry, Government provides the framework for building all critical public infrastructure services required for the country’s socio-economic development.