Economic slump blamed for stalled housing projects

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has blamed the economy for its failure to complete housing projects in the last two years, a development which affected the local authority`s development targets.

Delivering a review of the council performance in the last two years, the Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said volatile economy made it impossible for the housing projects to be completed on time.

Mayor Mguni said in 2018, nine housing projects which were targeting to avail 2225 stands ground to a halt.

“Council in 2012 started the concept of presale stands where the beneficiaries of the stands paid upfront to raise the capital to service the stands. While the project started very well up to 2017 where a tola of 3325 stands were delivered, 2018 saw teething problems grinding to a halt nine running projects with a total of 2225 stands. Only one project was successfully delivered in 2020, Selbourne Park with a total of 77 stands,” said the mayor. 

“These stands were sold to those with access to foreign currency. The proceeds from the project were also used to procure imported materials such as bituminous materials to complete all the 10 projects.”

Mayor Mguni noted that as early as March 2018 some contractors were already demanding hard currency for their services. 

“The projects were affected by volatile economic environment which saw contractors demanding hard currency as early as March 2018. In addition, contractors frequently increased prices in an unpredictably manner, while erratic supplies of diesel also impacted negatively,” he said. 

“Certain construction components e.g bitumen, explosives etc that were imported made it difficult to finish the project. SI 33/2019 introducing interbank rates as well as SI 142/2019 made it illegal to charge or collect in foreign currency thereby making it difficult to complete projects.”

The mayor said the Covid-19 induced national lockdown of non-essential services which started on March 30, also impacted heavily on the non-essential aspects of local authority’s service delivery. 

The city`s housing waiting list is now over 120 000, with less than 20 000 housing stands serviced in the last 15 years.

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