Financial strain hits Bulawayo council. . .Suspends residential stands’ servicing

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THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it is struggling to remain afloat on the back of a depleting financial position, which has created serious gaps in basic service delivery and led to the suspension of residential stands servicing.

In a report on the projects status of tenders for all projects contained in the latest council minutes, Chamber Secretary, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou, was quoted advising councillors that it was now a challenge for the local authority to award new contracts to service stands, for instance, given the prevailing economic outlook.

“The Chamber Secretary advised that it was a challenge to award new contracts to service stands due to economic challenges. The current economic challenges had even forced some contractors to withdraw from their projects,” reads the report.

“Servicing of stands in this environment would be costly and difficult to price the stands. At the end of the day, the stand would be unaffordable because of the continued economic instability.”

In response, the local authority in statement on Monday announced adoption of a string of policy options in view of the obtaining socio-economic environment in the country so as to ensure continued service delivery.

“The City of Bulawayo has not been exempt from the recent macro-economic downturn which has affected the entire nation. The city’s financial position has been depleted and council is barely managing to remain afloat and provide basic and decent services. The situation is dire and untenable and calls on the City of Bulawayo to implement austerity measures to ensure continued service delivery,” Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, said.

In the council report, Mrs Zhou has indicated the need for council to re-strategise on how best to deliver this service within enforceable contracts that would deliver stands affordable to local residents.

In this regard, Mr Dube said the City Fathers have since approved the policy options and strategies to address the prevailing challenges.

These include renegotiating outstanding contracts, a special express pre-selling of stands in forex and availing discount incentive for those who pay rates in foreign currency.

Mr Dube also said all international organisations that are operating within the city are now expected to make payments in foreign currency with immediate effect.

“The above measures have been taken to strengthen the multi currency system for financial and price stability and to increase inflows of foreign currency for sustained service delivery,” he said.

Mrs Zhou raised the concerns after some councillors asked where the next project of servicing stands would be.

The councillors also expressed concern about the slow progress of servicing the Magwegwe stands highlighting that there was an outcry from the beneficiaries.

It was also stressed that the slow pace in servicing of the stands had resulted in some beneficiaries withdrawing their interest in council stands to seek seek opportunities elsewhere.

It was thus felt necessary for BCC to write to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing requesting to sell the stands in foreign currency, reads the report.

In response the director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube advised that servicing of stands was planned in Magwegwe Extension, Pumula Extension, Emganwini, Mahatshula and Selborne Park.

“Council would be forced to cancel all these projects because of economic challenges. Council is trying to complete the existing projects,” reads part of the report.

Source: The Chronicle

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