Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
BULAWAYO is poised for a major economic transformation and growth following a pledge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to pump US$600 million towards the city’s major infrastructural developmental projects in line with Vision 2030.
AfDB is funding three major projects which include the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) to the tune of US$33 million, the US$2 million Beef and Leather Project as well as US$22 million for the ZimFund Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Projects Phase II.
In terms of the Bulawayo City Council (BCC)’s master plan, the council has a deficit of US$600 million for it to meet the city’s infrastructural requirements.
The BWSSIP is aimed at improving municipal water supply and sanitation services through the rehabilitation of the city’s water supply system, strengthening institutional capacity, enhancing service delivery and improvement of environmental sanitation.
The project started in September 2015 and is set to end in December this year.
Under the BWSSIP, BCC installed new water pumps at its Fernhill and Ncema pump stations resulting in an increased water pumping capacity for the city from 92 megalitres (ML) per day to 145ML.
The new pumps were installed at a cost of US$7,5 million.
The increased raw water capacity from the Flowserve pumps coupled with the refurbished Criterion Water Treatment Works is assisting Bulawayo deliver water to its 165 suburbs.
Due to recurrent droughts, Bulawayo faced critical water shortage which forced the council to introduce a 144-hour water shedding programme a few months ago.
Since the commencement of pumping in February, the city has gradually reduced its 144-hour water shedding to 48 hours per week with a planned gradual restoration to 24 hours supply of water throughout the city.
The KSB pumps which were installed more than 40 years ago were now plagued with constant breakdowns thus costing council more in terms of routine maintenance.
In an interview soon after touring the BWSSIP, the AfDB executive director, representing Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, Dr Judith Kateera, said they were prepared to inject more funds to Bulawayo, which will have a huge impact on the city’s economic growth in line with Vision 2030.
“BCC raised the issue regarding US$600 million overall financing, which is required for their master plan. My advice is that council needs to work very closely with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and our (AfDB) country office to prepare a concept note of what they intend to do as council,” she said on Tuesday.
Dr Kateera said in line with Vision 2030, Bulawayo should not be left behind in terms of economic growth.
“We want to develop and modernise Bulawayo for the benefit of, not only the city, but all the people in the region and the country at large.
We are also promoting our companies to participate in the development of the continent. Whatever we produce in Zimbabwe, we are encouraging companies to undertake intra-regional trade,” she said.
“As we are all aware that President Mnangagwa has made clear the national Vision 2030. He wants to drive the economy to grow towards a middle-income country and has continuously said no one should be left behind. Let’s not leave Bulawayo behind.”
Dr Kateera said AfDB will continue to work closely with BCC to fund bigger projects.
“US$600 million is not a lot of money for AfDB as far as I am concerned as long as we do the right things and moving in sync with the region as guided by the AU Agenda 2063. There are similar other projects, which we funded in the region and therefore Zimbabwe must not be left behind in terms of the UN Vision 2030,” he said.
“We must also deliver on our national Vision 2030 as pronounced by the President. As long as I am still at AfDB, I want to work closely with BCC because the bank has already started working with you on the water and sanitation project.”
Dr Kateera commended BCC for reaching 96 percent project completion rate under the BWSSP.
“I am satisfied with the work that BCC is doing together with the African Development Bank. There are some challenges that they are facing and they are manageable and I can confidently say that the teams are working very well and there is good collaboration between the bank and the local authority,” she said.
Dr Kateera said they also set aside US$25 billion for the 55 member countries to access the fund under the climate adaptation programme.
She said BWSSIP is in line with the objectives of the bank.
“As AfDB, we have our own slogan where we talk about feed Africa, light empower Africa, industrialise Africa, integrate and then improve the welfare of the people of Africa. We apply the same objectives to specific countries and therefore the water project helps us achieve the first objective of feeding Africa, which is feed Zimbabwe because without water there is nothing that you can do especially in respect to addressing poverty,” said Dr Kateera.
She said more than 650 000 households are going to benefit from the water project.
“As a development bank we are interested in the developmental impact of the project. We are serving the Government of Zimbabwe, which is a shareholder in the bank,” said Dr Kateera.
She said the bank is now moving towards supporting large projects that transform the structure of the economy and have great impact on the people. “The bank now wants us to implement large, transformative and impactful projects. We are aiming for much bigger projects so that we generate employment, transform the lives of our people and more importantly improve their welfare and quality of life,” said Dr [email protected]