Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
COWDRAY Park suburb is set to become a distinct city as Government is mooting plans to create a “stand-alone city” within the city of Bulawayo.
The proposal, if it comes to fruition, will change the face of Cowdray Park, one of the largest suburbs in the city with about 76 500 residents.
Cowdray Park suburb is dogged by poor roads, lack of water and sewer reticulation and lack of social amenities.
Council requires at least $300 million to put water and sewer reticulation infrastructure in the suburb. The houses built under the Government funded Hlalani Kuhle Housing Scheme have no electricity and running water.
Speaking to journalists soon after touring Hlalani Kuhle houses in the suburb last week, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said as a long-term plan, Government envisages transforming Cowdray Park into a “stand-alone city.’
“We want to make Hlalani Kuhle a functional urban settlement because we cannot continue having all these people moving into the city centre. We must create a smart town around this suburb so that residents don’t have to trek to the Bulawayo city centre to access services,” he said
“We want a well-designed city which would be like a stand-alone city, which is a distinct part of Bulawayo. I will push for that so that we come up with plans of that nature and there are businesspeople who want to invest in this and we should encourage them.”
He said schools, clinics, police stations among other social amenities will be required.
Minister Moyo said Government is committed to addressing the major challenges being faced by residents of Hlalani Kuhle houses who have gone for years without water and sewer reticulation infrastructure.
He said Government will avail resources for sewer and water reticulation infrastructure in Cowdray Park.
“On the issue of Hlalani Kuhle houses, the council gave us the required figure of $300 million to do the sewage and water reticulation.
Government, working with BCC and the Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, will make sure that funds are availed so that we can work on the sewage system,” he said.
“We will also push Zesa so that electricity is connected because we don’t want dark suburbs in our towns and cities.”
The Minister also toured the city’s major roads, which are being rehabilitated by the Government under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).
Treasury has availed $480 million while The Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) has availed about $2 billion to local authorities this year towards road rehabilitation across the country as part of measures to revive roads that have been damaged by heavy rains.
Minister Moyo said Government has an obligation to address legacy issues, which include completion of projects started under the old dispensation.
“The President has directed me to work with BCC and the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube to achieve the desired results. The President is pushing us to produce life-changing results and we will do our best to achieve that,” he said.
Minister Moyo, who is a member of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, which is chaired by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, said Government has also accelerated the rehabilitation of roads in both urban and rural areas.
“The President declared an emergency situation on roads. The roads are maintained by the Department of Roads, local authorities and the District Development Fund (DDF). Because of this emergency, Government has taken a number of roads, which are very key to the economic and social development of Bulawayo such as siyephambili, Fife Street and those have been taken over by Government,” he said.
“We have also given BCC more than $600 million for rehabilitation of other roads to complement what Government is doing. However, it should be noted that all these are both Government and local authorities’ roads and they service our people.”
“The President hopes that if we resuscitate these roads, it will spur economic growth. He has been visiting the city to look at the water situation and industries but has said the road infrastructure is very key.”
The rehabilitation programme, said Minister Moyo, was targeting regional trunk roads linking Zimbabwe with neighbouring countries, major highways connecting the main cities, major arteries in urban local authorities, rural access roads and bridges and other drainage structures weakened or damaged by flooding. Zimbabwe has a road network of 98 049km, distributed among the Department of Roads, urban and rural councils and the District Development Fund.
Minister Moyo also visited small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Mzilikazi and said his ministry working in conjunction with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development and BCC will support the growth of the sector.
Minister Moyo said council will use some of the devolution funds to develop workplaces for traders in different parts of the city. — @mashnets