BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has started scouting for potential investors to bankroll its ambitious solar power project meant to ease the city’s power challenges.
The plant would be located at the city’s cemeteries, starting with the de-commissioned Hyde Park cemetery.
Mayor Solomon Mguni said the project, mooted last year, was now on track after residents approved it in the face of incessant electricity outages.
“The project is still on course. We had a consultative meeting at the City Hall on the issue around that time when we were consulting on the city’s master plan,” Mguni said.
“The residents gave us the greenlight, and we are following that by looking for investors and partners for the project. It will be rolled out gradually to all the cemeteries, but we are looking at starting with Hyde Park.”
According to council, the solar farm project does not constitute reuse of the land, but “it is the use of the space above the graves without disturbing the peace of the area”. He said they were using the model applied at the Vaal Mall in Vereeniging, South Africa.
“The solar panels would be located at a height which allows free movement of people underneath without interfering with the panels. The general public would have unlimited access to the cemetery site,” the council engineering report read.
“The relatives of the deceased who were buried within the cemeteries would still be able to install tombstones on the graves of their loved ones and also to partake in tombstone unveiling ceremonies.”
According to a council report, some councillors were initially against setting up the project at burial sites arguing that “in the African tradition graves were very sacred places.
Erection of pillars would involve digging around graves and this would be undesirable”.