Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) requires about $300 000 to compensate property owners at Egodini whose properties would be demolished to pave way for the construction of a mall, the city’s Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube has said.
Mr Dube said council delayed handing over the Egodini site to project developers as the local authority is yet to compensate property owners whose properties will be affected by the multi-million dollar project.
Mr Dube said council resolved to pay $300 000 to five property owners whose properties will be destroyed and once the payment is made, the site will be handed over to Terracotta Trading Private Limited (TTPL), the company handling the project.
“There have been challenges but the problem was not with Terracota. Council had to first agree with property owners on the amounts to be paid as compensation,” said Mr Dube.
He said at one time negotiations with property owners were stalled as some of the property owners were demanding outrageous amounts.
Meanwhile, Mr Dube said council may fail to complete between 30 and 50 percent of its projects due to the shortage of foreign currency.
He said council imports most of its materials from South Africa and as such needs foreign currency.
“That is a very serious challenge and unless the situation improves, we will not be able to complete some of the projects with the money that we had initially budgeted for.
“We need some extra money to cover that gap. Some of the people we engaged to do the work are forced to buy money on the parallel market,” said Mr Dube.
He said another challenge the council is facing was poor revenue collections as some residents are struggling to pay rates.
Mr Dube said as part of measures to encourage residents to clear their arrears, council has stopped charging interest to residents who commit to clearing their debts.
The Town Clerk said shortage of staff was also affecting the council’s projects.
“At the moment we are about 3 000 which means we have 1 500 vacancies that need to be filled,” he said.
Mr Dube however said it was difficult for council to employ when it was failing to pay workers.
“We owe workers three months’ salary,” said the Town Clerk. — @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle