Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
ALL roads from local authorities in Zimbabwe are leading to Kudzanayi Long Distance Bus Terminus in Gweru where councils are going on look-and-learn visits.
The US$1,4 million project is a partnership between Gweru City Council (GCC) and a private company, Bentach Resources.
Already, GCC has received over $6 million in revenue collected by Bentach Resources at the long-distance bus terminus which used to be run by barons, resulting in council being prejudiced of potential revenue.
When it was opened, the model terminus attracted attention from various parts of the country, with a delegation from Manicaland Province led by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Nokuthula Matsikenyeri, embarking on a look-and-learn visit.
Yesterday, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution responsible for Harare Metropolitan Province, Engineer Oliver Chidawu, led a team of management and councillors from Harare City Council and Ruwa Town Board on a similar visit.
Bulawayo City Council has not made a visit yet, but has a lot to learn after the failed US$60 million Egodini Mall Project which started in 2016.
The proposed plan to redevelop Egodini into a multi-million dollar mall and regional transport hub resulted in the displacement of vendors and transporters who were operating at Basch Street Bus Terminus, leading to congestion in the city centre.
President Mnangagwa commissioned the new-look Kudzanayi Long Distance Bus Terminus in Gweru on December 13.
The bus terminus is now open to the public following a major upgrade of the facility which commenced last year after GCC partnered Bentach Resources.
The private contractor is administering the facility and at full throttle, the rank will be able to accommodate 800 vendors and over 100 buses per day.
In his welcome remarks, GCC mayor Clr Hamutendi Kombayi said the partnership was bearing fruit.
“As city of Gweru, we engaged Bentach to renovate and operate Kudzanayi Long Distance Bus Terminus following a Cabinet directive for local authorities to provide decent, clean and affordable trading spaces for small to medium enterprises.
The renovation and refurbishment at the bus terminus fulfilled our vision of bringing more revenue to GCC and the residents.
We are now realising revenue from the partnership which we have ring fenced for specific projects aimed at improving service delivery,” he said.
Eng Chidawu commended the partnership between GCC and Bentach which has seen a clean and decent work space for the informal sector.
“This project was commissioned by President Mnangagwa on December 13 last year.
The visit by President Mnangagwa is a clear recognition and testimony to his commitment to improving the operating conditions of the informal sector.
President Mnangagwa recognises the massive role the informal sector plays in the economy.
This role includes increased revenue collection for local authorities and reduced drug abuse by the youths,” he said.
Eng Chidawu said Harare is struggling to deal with the scourge of “space barons” who increase the cost of doing business for the informal traders through illegal charges.
“We have launched an operation to reclaim market spaces to ensure the local authority enters into public-private partnerships like what city of Gweru has done,” said Eng Chidawu.
He said all local authorities across the country are faced with revenue collection challenges which hinder service delivery.
GCC assistant director of engineering services Mr Tapiwa Marerwa said the project, which started in March last year, aimed at creating an opportunity for the local authority to take back the trading places that were in the hands of space barons.
“This was aimed at bringing order, convenience and the general desire to improve public health and cleanliness in public spaces.
So far, council has received more than $6 million from the investor,” he said.
Said Mr David Kudakwashe from Bentach: “The more the investor makes, the more the council makes because it’s percentage based.
The infrastructure is robust; the vendors are now formal traders as they remit tax to Government.
“We are always 100 percent full in terms of capacity for vendors.
We record a 3 percent default rate. We have a 15-year lease with GCC and we pay about 15 percent lease fee from revenue collected from the terminus.”
He said there were over 500 vending stalls for hardware, clothing and food.