New settlements trouble Bulawayo


Bulawayo City Council offices

BULAWAYO — Settlements that have mushroomed between Bulawayo and Umguza Rural District Council (RDC) have created challenges for council, which insists these do not fall under its jurisdiction.
As a result, Bulawayo city fathers are now locked in a tug of war with Umguza RDC, arguing that it has no obligation to give basic services such as water and sewer reticulation to the illegal settlers.
Umguza RDC has over the years allowed property developers and housing co-operatives to build houses on new settlements, creating suburbs such as Mbundane and Emthunzini which still do not have access to running water and other services offered by Bulawayo City Council (BCC).
BCC acting town clerk, Sikhangele Zhou, said the suburbs were not part of Bulawayo and were therefore giving them administrative problems.
Zhou said Bulawayo initially had a master plan to incorporate these areas into the city, but that has not materialised.
“Unfortunately, as it stands, Umguza RDC continues to be the authority administering those areas,” said Zhou. “However, we have noted that the areas cause problems for us because those people regard themselves as residents of Bulawayo and therefore want to use our services.”
She said while they may not access direct services offered by the local authority such as water, the illegal settlers come into the city and benefit indirectly because there were no control mechanisms on the movement of people.
“We do not have a border where we can ask for passports to say you are from Umguza or Bulawayo, so they will come to our clinics and use our clinics,” said Zhou.
She said refuse and waste from the area could even end up spilling into the city since they were on the boundary, causing more problems for city fathers.
Zhou said as part of efforts to resolve the challenge, BCC had taken the initiative to ask Umguza RDC to appoint them as the water services provider, before they could connect water to those areas.
BCC engineering services department director, Simela Dube, said connecting houses on the edge of Bulawayo to water would require about US$8 million, and that a new reservoir was required as the current water infrastructure could not allow for additional households.
Zhou said conclusion of talks between BCC and Umguza RDC would determine whether beneficiaries or their local authority would finance the project, arguing the second city could not finance a project for another authority.
While BCC awaits conclusion of the matter, Zhou said they had since written to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to suspend approval of settlement plans along their boundaries.
She added that they were also closely monitoring activities along the city’s borders to avoid settlements that would later give them a burden similar to the one they were currently facing.

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