EDITORIAL COMMENT: Bulawayo is indeed open for business

16 Oct, 2018 - 00:10 0 Views
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Bulawayo is indeed open for business

The Chronicle

CONTRACTORS for the $60 million Egodini Mall project, Terracotta Private Limited, yesterday began registering job seekers and businesses that will participate in the implementation of the mega project after commissioning a contact centre in Bulawayo on Friday.

There was a large turnout as job seekers thronged the company’s contact centre at the corner of Lobengula Street and 8th Avenue Extension. The company intends to employ 350 people under phase one of the project set to be completed in November next year. Actual construction works in the long awaited project are set to commence soon after completion of the registration process.

Company officials said demolition teams would move on site this week and are expected to start civil works and continue until the end of the year. The project is part of efforts to modernise the city and give residents a unique shopping experience. It also dovetails with Government’s vision of transforming Zimbabwe into a middle income economy by 2030.

The opening of the mall will attract investment to the city and assist in efforts to see Bulawayo regaining its industrial hub status. It will also aid in the renewal of one of the city’s oldest suburbs — Makokoba. Egodini Mall is a game changer in the public transport system and will decongest the city by clearing problematic areas such as 6th Avenue Extension and Basch Street. The commissioning of Egodini Mall comes after President Mnangagwa officially opened the $2 billion Hopeville Housing Project near Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and commissioned a $2 million tomato processing plant last month.

Government has been emphasising the need to revive the economy and agriculture. The tomato processing project is meant to ramp up community production around horticultural products and ensure that purchasing power gets to the community level. The horticulture project also speaks to the industrialisation goal which President Mnangagwa has been championing. The housing project is meant to alleviate the city’s housing backlog, create employment and business for feeder industries.

The Egodini Mall project, Hopeville Housing Project and the tomato processing plant will spur the re-industrialisation of the city, boosting business prospects for the National Railways of Zimbabwe which is headquartered in Bulawayo. Last year, NRZ and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet entered into a $400 million deal to fund the parastatal’s rehabilitation project, which involves renewal of plant, equipment, rolling stock, track signalling and telecommunications infrastructure as well as information technology systems.

The strategic entity, which requires about $1,9 billion in the long-term to fully recapitalise its operations, took delivery of railway equipment in February on lease terms under an interim arrangement with DIDG/Transnet while it awaits financial closure to the $400 million recapitalisation project.

Leased equipment under the interim solution comprises locomotives, wagons and passenger coaches. The equipment is meant to boost the NRZ’s capacity to move freight which had dropped drastically as a result of obsolete equipment. During its glory days in the 1990s, NRZ was moving 18 million tonnes of freight annually but the figure nose-dived to 3,1 million tonnes in 2017.

In the first quarter of the year, the parastatal surpassed its revenue target of $18 million for the period by five percent on the back of the trust NRZ’s customers continue to build in the company. The revival of Bulawayo is key to efforts to turn around the country’s economy and Government appears on track to achieving this.

Speaking at the commissioning of Egodini Mall Project Contact Centre last Friday, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, Cde Judith Ncube, said the beginning of construction of the mall is evidence that Bulawayo is supporting the revival of the nation’s economy. “The development of the Egodini mall is in line with the country’s business mantra that ‘Zimbabwe is open for businesses’. Indeed it is evident through this project that Bulawayo is open for business.
I hold this project in esteem as it speaks to redevelopment of shared infrastructure,” she said.

She added: “If we say Bulawayo is open for business, we mean that the lost pride is brought back to the people. We are known as the industrial hub but this was slowly fading away due to economic constraints. Once completed, this mall will comprise of various businesses and sites affording the people of Bulawayo a unique shopping experience. As we do this we open up investment for the city and also create hope for the populace”.

We agree with Cde Ncube and urge businesses to set up shop in Bulawayo which is conducive for investment. The city is one of the best run local authorities in the country and has been declared one of the Special Economic Zones. Bulawayo, like Zimbabwe, is indeed open for business.

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