FI­NAN­CIAL STRAIN HITS BYO COUN­CIL Suspends residential stands’ ser­vic­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Busi­ness Re­porters

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 so­cioe­co­nomic 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 pre­selling 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.

Mr Christo­pher Dube

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