Egodini delay takes legal turn, BCC takes Terracotta to court over project stall
Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, [email protected]
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has resolved to take Egodini Mall contractor, Terracotta Private Limited, to court for delaying to complete the project after winning the US$60 million tender to rebuild Bulawayo’s Basch Street Bus Terminus in 2012.
Egodini was closed in 2016 paving way for the construction of a mall and modern bus rank. But seven years after Terracotta took over what was supposed to be the modernisation of Egodini, formal and informal traders have endured tales of missed opportunities and unfulfilled promises.
Since the closure of Egodini, vendors have invaded the city’s pavements and even forced Edgars located at the corner of Leopold Takawira Avenue and Herbert Chitepo Street to close shop citing that the location was no longer conducive for its clientelle. Bulawayo councillors even tried to force open Egodini for vending and public transport at the end of February, giving an ultimatum to the contractor but to date, nothing has changed.
According to the latest council minutes, councillors raised concern over the delays and demanded to know why Terracotta is failing to stick to timelines as the project had taken a lot of time.
Responding to the councillors, BCC chamber secretary Mrs Sikhangezile Zhou said they would resort to the legal route.
“Vendors and commuter omnibuses have not moved in, and they are still congesting the central business district. Efforts were being made to engage the contractor who had not responded and council is now taking the legal route,” she said.
Town planning director Mr Wisdom Siziba said a letter was sent to Terracotta informing the company of the council resolution, which also highlighted the need for the company to complete all critical works at Egodini.
He said the council had noted with concern that there were a number of outstanding works that are yet to be addressed before vendors and transport operators can move into Egodini.
According to a redevelopment report, the present state of Egodini and the required work are not conducive for commuter omnibuses and informal traders to move in and operate safely at the facility.
“The ablution facilities block was at window level and there would be a need for it to be completed before the occupation of the facility. Lighting would also need to be provided prior to occupation,” said Mr Siziba.
“Engagements were done with public transport operators in a meeting held on February 7, 2023 when the public transport operators were informed of the council resolution indicated above and the need for them to organise themselves and be prepared to move to Egodini.”
Mr Siziba said a majority of public transport operators still need to obtain operators licences as Egodini will be opened to licensed vehicles only.
“An advert informing the public on Egodini relocation strategy with regard to informal traders was circulated in the local press and council social media pages on February 7, 2023. It was notified that those traders who used to trade from Egodini would be given first priority to move back to Egodini. Informal traders were also being engaged and informed of the above-mentioned Council resolution,” he said.
Mr Siziba said the council had done its part in ensuring that all the properties had been acquired and compensation paid accordingly.
“Survey and consolidation of the stands concerned were done, and that the notarial lease was registered against the property. Council issued an instruction to Coghlan and Welsh to register the notarial lease and the requisite fees were paid,” he said.
“Terracotta Trading Pvt Ltd had also paid for the registration of the notarial lease. At the moment, council lawyers Coghlan and Welsh are working on the registration of the notarial lease, and once the lease has been registered Terracotta would be put to terms of the contract.”
Disgruntled business people and residents have rubbished continued excuses by BCC in terms of the reopening of Egodini. Association of Business Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chief executive officer Mr Victor Nyoni recently said the proposed redevelopment of Egodini had a buy-in from business stakeholders who have since been left disappointed.
He said council’s management should understand that failure to complete the project has repercussions on the city’s investment perception.