Senior Business Reporter
THE Government is looking to accelerate its urban densification programme, with plans to review the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act and allow private sector players to play major roles in urban renewal and development, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo has said.
Updating of this legislation, which concerns land-use planning at regional level, will allow for the densification programme to be implemented in zones that are currently restricted.
Addressing delegates at a Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association (ZBCA) stakeholders engagement recently, Minister Moyo said the densification programme, which is part of a broader urban renewal programme, will benefit local contractors.
“The current legislation, and in my Ministry we have the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act, which is the overarching Act in the built-up environment. Some of the strictures that we have imposed on ourselves now need to be removed.
“For instance, there are certain zones in all our built-up environments where we were saying we cannot go up and we now need to densify. Densification is utmost in our minds,” he said.
“We should also not just be going out to build on agricultural land. When we say we must densify, we must also be doing urban renewal. Our urban renewal programme gives you (local contractors) opportunities to bring your proposals. I think let’s have a mindset which says you as contractors should not wait for tendering, you should come to us with proposals that bring in financing and proposed structures and get us to work with you.
“While tendering continues to be there, the modern way of doing business is that our contractors, our engineers, our urban designers, urban planners and architects should be able to come to us with proposals.”
Last year, the City of Harare launched its urban renewal programme, also sets focus on the Mbare renewal programme that is aimed at building new flats, terminus and rehabilitation of the Mbare Musika Market and bus Terminus.
The City of Mutare also launched its urban renewal programme last year.
Added Minister Moyo: “Government has a vision of how cities should look like in the future, and that vision can only be fulfilled in partnership with the private sector.
“By engaging local contractors, we save money, increase our gross domestic product and we increase the circulation of money. The upper-middle class income status has quantitative figures that are spurred by construction.”
The Government has also indicated that funding to local municipalities going forward will be prioritised towards construction projects. ZBCA president Engineer Christopher Mawere, said local contractors had more than adequate capacity to receive internal projects.
“For some past few years this economy has been losing scarce foreign exchange due to the awarding of contracts to external firms. But does that mean that local contractors do not have the capacity?
“The answer is a resounding no,” he said.
“As building contractors let me assure you that local contractors are capable of undertaking the necessary work to achieve Vision 2030. We are therefore advocating that all the local projects be given to local contractors going forward.
“The benefits are that the economy will save millions of dollars in foreign exchange while building the capacity of local contractors in terms of equipment and expertise.”
Zimbabwe’s public infrastructure such as roads, railway lines, international airports, dams among others need rehabilitation for them to contribute meaningfully to national economic development.
However, our national railway lines have been dilapidated for a long time — with electrical systems vandalised from Harare to Dabuka, while many accidents that damaged goods worth hundreds of millions have occurred.