Churches have not taken over industry: BCC

...they are just placeholders

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has dispelled concerns that churches have taken over the industry, claiming the majority of them are just ‘placeholders’ in industrial areas and will relocate once the industries are revived.

There are concerns that churches have taken over Bulawayo’s industry, as many of them have relocated to the industrial site, though some churches noted many factories are ’empty and lying idle.’

During a stakeholder consultation meeting on the presentation of Bulawayo’s Local Development Plan (LDP) 8 for Industrial areas held at Small City hall on Thursday, BCC Director of Town Planning Wisdom Siziba said churches would not be present at the industry forever and would leave once the industries were operational.

“We are saying churches are just placeholders, once industries start coming up they would have to move for the industry to come up,” Siziba said.

According to the LDP report, Kelvin North, which is zoned for the service sector, now has three percent of churches there.

In Belmond, which is designated for general industry, churches occupy only one percent, while five percent of churches are found in Luveve, which is reserved for light and service industry.

“Some of the issues that we have identified in the LDP plan is where the industry was planned for this, you find it’s no longer happening that way. Where we have general industry, you also find the service industry there. There were also some issues that came out from the study to say, we have other areas in industrial areas that are now occupied by churches,” Siziba said.

BCC has been in the process of preparing the LDP 8,  which was adopted on March 4, 1992.

The LDP is formulated in two parts, that is  Report of Study and the Written Statement, where BCC formulated the Report of Study, which has gone through the requisite statutory consultations leading to the formulation of the Written Statement (Policies and Proposals).

The main aim of the LDP 8 is to prepare a spatial planning framework that is contemporary, responsive to the operative global, regional, national and local context and trends.

“We were meeting today because the statute calls us to review local plans. The City of Bulawayo has a master plan and within the city we have a number of local plans that we have and there is a  need for us to review local plans. The one that we are reviewing today is Local Plan Development, number 8 which covers the industrial areas,” said the town planning director.

“The LDP is now 31 years old but we need to review the plans when they are between 15 to 20 years so we are working on them. We have done a study report and gone on the ground to check what is obtained now in the industrial areas.”

Siziba said the presentation of the LDP was necessary so stakeholders can contribute to Bulawayo’s vision of industry.

“This will show where we want to go in terms of planning so that at least we create an enabling environment for industry. The industry can also pick from there and use that local plan that we have,” he said.

Siziba stated that internal stakeholders also included from the Town Planning Department to  council departments, council administration and councillors.

“Today we were presenting to the stakeholders. Once this presentation has been done, what we are going to do is a written statement after stakeholders input their views. Next is how we term what we have identified as problems.  We will take this presentation to the world because it will be uploaded on our website so that we get comments from people from all over in order to create  this local  plan and make it operative,” he said.

Siziba said the LDP report contains a number of observations they made, and one of the issues they discovered was the multi-use of industries by various users.

“The study identified that an industrial stand where we are supposed to have one user operating there, has six to seven users operating there. How do we rationalise that and how do we make sure we have good working spaces for the people? How do we regularise that so that we put the policies there,” he said.

“We are saying the industries of yesterday might not be the industries of the future so we need to talk to the future since we are a smart and transformative city.

Meanwhile, the town planning director said the other issue identified in the report were accident hotspots.

According to the report, the causes of accidents  include inattention, misjudgement, overtaking errors, excessive speeding, and failure to give way.

“Once these accident hotspots have been identified, they will need to be attended to as we move,” Siziba said.

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