New measures to clear housing backlog

By Albert Nxumalo

THE Government has admitted that it is faced with a huge challenge to deliver affordable  and  quality housing  in  both urban  and  rural  areas as set targets  continue  to be missed.

Under the Transitional Stabilisation Programm (TSP), government had  identified  housing  delivery  as  one  of  the  programmes  targeted  for implementation under Priority Public Infrastructure. 

The focus was on prioritising provision of housing stands and the requisite  social amenities  to  address  the  national housing backlog which stands at about 1,2 million.

However, despite concerted  efforts  the  country  continues  to  experience  a  huge housing  backlog, particularly in urban areas.  

A total of 1.25 million units  had been earmarked  but only 164 195 fully serviced residential stands and development of 49 870 completed houses was achieved countrywide.

A new five year National Development Strategy1 (NDS1) document launched on Monday by President Emmerson Mnangagwa states that macro-economic  instability, rapid  urbanisation  resulting  in  growth  of  informal  settlements  that  lack  title to land and access to basic services infrastructure and limited  investment  in  social  amenities  that  include  schools,  health  and recreational  facilities hindered  progress.

Government has since set a target of “220 000 housing units to be delivered as a function of  effective demand during the Strategy Period.”

Construction of rental residential flats has been identified as one of key strategies  to attain set goals, the document states.

“Rental  accommodation,  which  caters  for  young  professionals,  has  not  been  growing in Zimbabwe. During the NDS1 Period, measures  to increase  rental accommodation such as flats will be prioritised.   

“In this regard, during NDS1 Period, the Rental Policy will be reviewed in order attract Pension Funds to invest in rental  accommodation” reads part of the  document.

The document further said measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 have exacerbated the problem of unoccupied office space in the central business district.  

“This presents an opportunity to convertm such unoccupied units into residential accommodation as part of the densification programme. 

“To further support the densification projects, housing developments  will  allocate  40%  of  land  towards  construction  of  flats.”

In view of high cost of building materials, Government said other  elements  key  to  the  successful  resolution  of  accommodation  deficiencies require  a  reduction  in  the  cost  of  constructing  housing  units.  

“This will be achieved through  enhanced  research  and  development  programmes  to  support  adoption of appropriate technology, modern housing structures adapted for climate change  and resilience  as  well  as  utilisation  of  locally  available  materials”.

Bulawayo has a housing waiting list of well over 120 000, with less than  20 000 housing stands serviced in the last 15 years.

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