Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Government is planning to redesign Victoria Falls Town which will see some buildings demolished and reconstructed to maximise on the “little” available land as the local authority transforms into a city.
Parliament recently approved that Victoria Falls be granted city status, a development that will catapult the tourism resort town to growth.
The city status comes along with additional responsibilities and the local authority will need more land for infrastructure development among other changes. What is left is for President Mnangagwa to make the official pronouncement and if granted the status, Victoria Falls will be the first city based on tourism industry in the country.
Victoria Falls was designated a Special Economic Zone and is central to a cocktail of developments comprising Masuwe, Batoka town, Mlibizi, Binga, Sijalila and Gwayi-Shangani. Local Government and Public Works Minister Cde July Moyo told Parliament that planning and designing of a mixed-use development for the Victoria Falls Mixed Commercial use project has started. Victoria Falls Town is situated on 2 900ha of land and cannot expand because it is surrounded by national parks.
“There is a detailed plan about the development of Victoria Falls itself. The present Victoria Falls is sitting on 2 900ha and we want to preserve that as it is. The additionalities are outside those 2 900ha and we want to redevelop. The town is host to significant Government real estate which unfortunately is in a dilapidated state. To this end, 35 houses around the city centre have been identified for redevelopment. The houses are sitting on approximately 3,5 hectares and this needs redevelopment and regeneration. As you go into Victoria Falls, you see houses on your left before you reach OK Stores, those houses belong to Government and there are large tracks of land and we are saying as Government, let us densify and create an ambiance that will attract investors,” said Minister Moyo.
He said the municipality had already come up with a development model which will soon be tabled before Cabinet for approval.
The new developments will see the Vehicle Inspection Depot (VID) being relocated while some old buildings owned by Government in parts of Chinotimba old suburb will be demolished and upgraded. The council has also indicated about ongoing engagements towards relocating the Zimbabwe National Army Victoria Falls barrack.
“They have even said let us move the VID so that it does not create the noise that it is creating today. So the municipality has been preparing and in some case has attracted investment already and when it attains the municipality status, Government must recognise that it has grown,” added Minister Moyo.
The minister said the municipality had since awarded a Design and Construct Commercial Contract on a Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis to Cardinal Corporation Private Limited for expansion projects. The Government wants to develop Victoria Falls into its conference capital and to show commitment, there are close partnerships by Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry as well as Local Government and Public Works.