Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council is set to avail more than 7 000 stands as the local authority steps up efforts to ease accommodation woes in the city.
This comes at a time the local authority is working on looking for funding that will enable them to complete the servicing of a further 2 047 stands which were left incomplete by the awarded contractors.
Responding to questions from Sunday News, the local authority’s spokesperson Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the identified projects were part of the city’s efforts to reduce the housing backlog which is pegged at 125 000.
She said there were 7 646 new stands, which together with the stands that were abandoned by various contractors amount to 9 693.
“Major housing developments being targeted for the year are: Norwood tracks phase one (2 020 stands), Norwood tracks phase two (1 500 stands), Luveve North (456 stands), Killarney East (800 low density stands), Mahatshula East (670 stands) and remainder Umganwini (2 200 stands),” said Mrs Mpofu.
On the stands that were abandoned by various property developers, the council spokesperson revealed that the local authority required US$10 947 101 to complete the servicing of the areas.
She revealed that the local authority had taken legal action against the developers so as to recover the costs.
“Most of the outstanding projects are currently on hold due to pending arbitration process resulting from increased costs of outstanding works attributed to the following; contracts were awarded when the local currency and the United States dollar were still pegged at a rate of one is to one, the volatile macro-economic environment and subsequent statutory instruments pertaining to the currency further eroded the funding collected from beneficiaries.
“Also, the increase in fuel price which is in excess of 1 000 percent since January 2019, the two percent Intermediated Monetary Transfer Tax (IMT Tax) and the October 2018, February 2019 and June 2019 monetary policies; and increase in the prices of construction materials and spare parts for plant, and equipment.
“As a way forward, Council is currently working on a number of strategies that can be implemented to fund these projects,” said Mrs Mpofu.
The pending projects are in Emganwini Two (367), Tshabalala (44), Magwegwe West (280), Woodville (144), Emhlangeni Phase two (502), Highmount (217), Magwegwe Extension (213) and Pumula South (280).
Four out of the eight projects are on hold pending arbitration process while for the Emhlangeni phase two and Magwegwe Extension, the contracts were terminated amicably and both projects handed back to council.
The local authority has had an on and off relationship with private developers having at one point been forced to set aside their engagement in housing projects instead opting for a pre-sale strategy where they sell off stands to beneficiaries and then use the money to develop the stands.
Two years ago the local authority revealed that it was adopting a new housing development policy that will see land developers not selling stands to home seekers, as this would be the sole responsibility of the local authority.
In the new policy, private developers no longer buy virgin land and sell undeveloped stands to residents but are expected to service the land with water, sewer and tarred roads first.