Gweru closes 187 businesses over rates
HAJEE Ismail Bahadur Centre, a shopping complex in Gweru popularly known as Bahadur Centre is under lock and key after the local authority closed the shops over non-payment of operational fees running into millions of dollars.
Bahadur Centre is one of the 187 businesses that have been closed by Gweru City Council over non-payment of water bills and other service charges.
On Tuesday, Gweru City Council embarked on an operation to shut down businesses that owe it and 40 shops at Bahadur Centre were affected.
Bahadur Centre owes council more than $60 million .
The centre, located along Emmerson Mnangagwa Way formerly known as First Street in the central business district, is a haven for illegal street dealers.
There are beauty salons, electrical shops and clothing shops at the centre which is arguably the busiest and most popular in Gweru.
There was pandemonium at the centre as council workers carrying chains and locks closed down the shops.
When the Chronicle arrived at the centre, some dealers were milling outside still “hustling” while those who operate hair salons appeared stranded following the closure of their shops.
In interviews, some tenants said they approached the real estate company that runs the building for a way forward.
“For now, some are stranded, yes but we have been assured that in no time, the shops will be reopened,” said one dealer.
Another tenant who operates a cellphone shop said: “We have been paying our bills through the estate agent (name supplied), but we were therefore shocked when we were told that we are in arrears.”
The tenant said said many of them lost a lot of business following thwe closure of theuir shops.
Gweru City Council public relations officer Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee said many businesses had been forced to close over non-payment of rates, water and other charges.
She said the shops that were closed were not paying their bills hence their debts were ballooning.
“We visited 394 businesses and 187 were closed. We have been closing shops in town, especially those businesses that owe us a lot of money,” she said.
Ms Chingwaramusee urged businesses to regularly pay their bills to avoid such inconveniences.