The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) looks set on a collision course with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) after the latter raised concern on proposed development project next to the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
This is after the local authority received an application from a private developer, Nondweni City Private Limited, seeking permission to establish a residential area and cemetery along the Bulawayo-Nkayi road, near the airport.
The land in question measures 999.035 hectares.
As per the norm, the local authority gave notice to properties next to the earmarked piece of land to offer their comments.
According to the latest council minutes, the local authority did not accede to application for the development permit after CAAZ objected to the application.
“A development permit to establish a cemetery on subdivision A of Upper Nondwene City (Pvt) Ltd be not acceded to in view of the comments from CAAZ,” read part of the minutes.
But council fathers insist they would not be bullied by CAAZ if it wants to expand the city boundaries.
In an interview with CITE, Bulawayo mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni, said CAAZ must show the authority the relevant legislation that blocks them from developing the land in question.
“My view is we can’t be bullied by CAAZ, where Bulawayo is concerned, to say no development can take place along 10 km from the airport. What is that law, does any law permit such development, if not, why does the law not permit such development? Is it a universal practice or is CAAZ saying this law is applicable only in Bulawayo,” he noted.
The Mayor said it was unfair for council, which was a planning authority to be told it cannot implement certain projects as they would interfere with air traffic yet infrastructure should complement an airport.
“When you go to some airports, you see structures lined up with tall buildings. Go to Harare, we see structures a kilometre away from the airport. Why should we slow down with our own development projects? CAAZ told us the relevant minister was to make a judgment decide.
“Besides the development is a mix of residential area and especially the planned cemetery is 10 kilometres away from the airport. It is next to Woodville suburb,”.Mguni highlighted.
He added that the council would not engage CAAZ as it was not its mandate to seek permission from it.
“It is not our business to talk to CAAZ. We are a planning authority and we will not be bullied by a non-planning authority.”
As a way forward, the mayor said the chairman of the town lands and planning committee, Councillor Rodney Jele had withdrawn the issue for further consultations.
“The matter will be discussed in the committee meetings,” Cllr Mguni said.