THE $60 million upgrading of Basch Street terminus in Bulawayo, popularly known as Egodini, was finally launched yesterday nearly four years since the project was first mooted. The Egodini Mall Project, incorporating a regional transport hub and state-of-the-art shopping complex, is set to transform the face of the city and create more than 1,000 jobs.
We welcome its launch and hope it heralds the implementation stage of the project — the first major development in Bulawayo in a very long time. We also envisage that Terracotta Trading Private Limited — the South African company awarded the tender to carry out the project will hit the ground running and complete construction within the stipulated two and a half years.
The beauty of the Build Operate and Transfer model under which the project is being carried out is that the mall will come at no cost to the residents of Bulawayo who will ultimately own it once the developer has recouped his investment.
The project has been in limbo with both the Bulawayo City Council and Terracotta not committing themselves to the commencement of the venture.
But as deputy Mayor Gift Banda said yesterday, projects of this magnitude are complex and require a lot of due diligence to ensure nothing is left to chance.
We pray that the teething problems which preceded the launch will not characterise the implementation stage because such a mammoth project requires proper planning and the highest levels of professionalism to undertake.
The refurbishment will see the terminus being a regional transport hub that will serve Bulawayo as well as Southern Africa with the 5,6228 hectares terminus expected to handle at least three million travellers each month.
“The vision of the Mall of Bulawayo is based on integrating various public transport modes, creating a modern, safe and quality environment for public transport users and providing other ancillary commercial, retail, and entertainment experiences for public transport users. The Mall and bus termini will link the Egodini Precinct to the rest of the Bulawayo Central Business District and create an exceptional public environment and city monument,” the BCC said in a statement announcing the launch.
It said the local authority would also expand existing roads at the site to allow for increased traffic access to the site and create dedicated pedestrian routes to prioritise pedestrian access to various facets of the Egodini precinct.
“The Mall will have revitalised landscaping along Lobengula Street with the inclusion of street furniture, public art and directional signage. One of the key highlights will be the King Lobengula remembrance garden meant to enhance the overall experience of the users of the facility and tying the core and its surrounds together by means of a high quality public environment,” BCC said.
The overall urban development framework for the site will consist of an intermodal transport hub located at Basch Street ground level, retail sections, shopping centres and visitor parking bays.
The main entrance will recognise the city’s history and will feature a life size statue of King Lobengula, as the founding King of the City of Bulawayo.
We hope Terracotta, after being adjudged the most suitable firm to spearhead the project because of its wide experience and capacity to carry out massive projects, will not disappoint the residents of Bulawayo.
There is a lot at stake and the displacement of more than 600 informal traders and kombi crews at Egodini clearly illustrates the importance with which the BCC attaches to the project.
We feel vendors who will be moved elsewhere while construction takes place should get first priority in the allocation of bays on completion of the mall.
In the meantime, we appeal to the vendors and kombi crews to co-operate with the BCC and move to their designated sites to allow the project to commence without incident in two months’ time.
We support the view that the mall will ignite interest in Bulawayo and investors will start flocking to the city.
Tourism will also be boosted by the increased traffic from neighbouring countries.
We applaud the city fathers, Terracotta and the generality of the people of Bulawayo for working hard to ensure the successful implementation of the Egodini Mall project.
Such unity of purpose is commendable and the spirit should continue being fostered until the project becomes a reality.