Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
The Hwange Local Board (HLB) is in the process of installing water and sewer reticulation systems to 508 residential stands and housing units in Empumalanga Phase 4 housing project.
HLB town secretary Mr Ndumiso Mdlalose told The Herald today that the project was now “progressing well”, after delays occasioned by legacy issues dating back to 2009, when the local authority’s previous administration engaged a contractor who failed to service the residential stands.
“Irked by the delay in servicing, some of the beneficiaries moved in and started construction activities,” said Mr Mdlalose.
“As it stands council has not offered anyone an occupation certificate for any of the houses, since the area has no services. “Those that have started residing in the area are doing so illegally.”
He said while council is obliged to provide the services but has taken long to do so, it does not condone illegal occupation of houses, adding that since Phase 4 is a high density area, it was also illegal for beneficiaries to put up sceptic tanks.
Mr Mdlalose said when the present administration came in, it committed to restore confidence between the local authority and residents.
HLB applied and received funding through the Public Sector Investment Programme, which it channelled towards the construction of a road network in the unserviced area.
Last year, HLB started installing the water reticulation system using own financial resources and has connected over 200 stands to date.
Mr Mdlalose said HLB anticipates to complete the project in the first-half of the year. “Thereafter, the installation of the sewer reticulation system is expected to start with council having set a target of completing it before the end of the year.
“Additional funding for the Phase 4 project has also been included in council’s 2021 budget.
“HLB is therefore appealing for patience as it seeks to rectify the anomaly brought about by this legacy issue,” he said.
Turning to the Empumalanga West housing project, Mr Mdlalose said it has been handed over to the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.
The project was a council initiative deliberately designed for low income earners. Beneficiaries were supposed to contribute towards the servicing of their stands, but the majority failed to meet the down payments towards the purchase and servicing cost of their stands.
In 2016, HLB courted a financial partner, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), which took over the project and adopted all the paid up beneficiaries.
The project targets to provide 2 145 fully serviced housing stands with IDBZ having been expected to provide roads, street lighting, water and sewer infrastructure as well as constructing a water reservoir.
However, two years ago contractors selected by the IDBZ withdrew from site due to a change in the monetary policy regime when the exchange rate between the United States dollar and RTGS was equated.
The project remains incomplete and IDBZ has handed it over to the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities. HLB has since signed a Deed of Novation to that effect, meaning that the local authority only comes in as the owners of the land.
The responsibility to service has been taken over by the ministry. Accordingly, all beneficiaries of that project should now look up to the ministry for the completion of the services and anything to do with that project.