COMMENT: Throwing US$60 million e(m)godini is crazy

The Chronicle

IN SiNdebele when one is said to be flushing money down the drain, they are said to be putting money emgodini.

This is exactly what is happening with the much-hyped US$60 million Egodini Mall Project. It’s an emgodini project which will never see the light of day.  

The closure of Basch Street Terminus – commonly known as Egodini – has turned Bulawayo city centre into an untrafficable zone. 

Kombi crews wantonly violate road rules causing congestion and roads such as 6th Avenue Extension and Herbert Chitepo streets from 5th Avenue to 11th Avenue have become no-go areas for most motorists. Kombi crews have since turned the roads into mini ranks.

While 6th Avenue is the perfect exit road for motorists using the City-Luveve Road, most have abandoned the route opting for longer routes such as Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road, turning just before Mpilo Central Hospital to reconnect into Luveve Road in Mzilikazi near Emachipsini.

The inconvenience would not be as painful if there was meaningful development at Egodini. The project has had several false starts and continues to miss completion deadlines.

Terracotta Trading Private Limited (TTPL) won a US$60 million tender to construct Egodini Mall in 2015 and works were supposed to commence in 2016.

On Wednesday, informal traders told Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube that vending bays being constructed at Egodini are too small and may find no takers.

The meeting was also told that TTPL will miss the December 1 deadline which it had set to open up a taxi rank and operating space for informal traders, under phase one of the project.

The company is constructing vending bays that are 1,5 metres by 90 centimetres against 1,5m by 2m which vendors say they were promised. 

Also of concern was that construction of toilets which was supposed to be done to facilitate the opening of the first phase of the project is far from completion.

And as if that is not enough, Egodini project administrator Mr Thando Moyo could not provide assurances of when the first phase of the project will be completed.

What a joke! A big joke! A US$60 million joke!

This is why tempers flared during the meeting and Minister Ncube had to calm the vendors who lost business at the close of Egodini to make way for the project.

Minister Ncube said there was no way that kombis and informal traders can be moved on site without completion of toilets. 

Said Bulawayo Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises chairperson Mr Dumisani Ncube: “To us it is more of a demotion rather than a promotion because when we were looking at the Egodini Mall Project, it was supposed to upgrade people from the streets to where they can be accommodated. Unfortunately, when the vending stalls are so small, it becomes a challenge to us as to how do we explain to the members because this would be a demotion.”

No one could have put it better. The Egodini Mall Project is a demotion for the city of Bulawayo. The contractor cannot even raise the required US$60 million. 

No investor will put their money emgodini. This scam of a project must just be cancelled so that we all move on with our lives.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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