Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
CONSTRUCTION of a $10 million up-market shopping mall in Victoria Falls is expected to start anytime soon.
The complex will be built by Zimre Property Investment (ZPI). ZPI chief executive officer Mr Edson Muvingi said work at the site was expected to start before the end of the year.
“We estimate a period of 13 to 18 months to complete the project. We expect to commence works on the ground this side of the year upon completion and obtaining all approvals. The approval processes are at an advanced stage including the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). We estimate a total cost in the region of $10 million to complete the project,” said Mr Muvingi.
The Sawanga shopping mall would house offices, internet cafes, bookshops, banks, boutiques, hair salons, restaurants, motor spares shops, medical centre, theatres, cultural centre and gymnasium, among others. An elaborate sewage and water reticulation system would be put in place with access roads being constructed for easy vehicular movement.
“We have completed land acquisition and we are in the finalisation of the design, taking into account the needs of prospective tenants. We are also working on EIA report submission including stakeholder consultations which is ongoing and towards finalisation,” said Mr Muvingi.
Zimre, which is both into residential and commercial property development, seeks to tap into the anticipated business boom on the back of an influx of tourists in the resort town.
“We felt the need to diversify our portfolio and create high class real estate assets. We were also motivated by the investment opportunity that exists in Victoria Falls for real estate development, particularly a good retail facility and the future growth potential of the tourist town. We were also prompted to consider investing in the property after a survey of the town we carried out in relation to retail facilities including Livingstone on the Zambian side as well as the excellent town management by the Victoria Falls Town Council and the business manner which they facilitate investment,” said Mr Muvingi.
The property developer’s environmental consultancy firm, Environmental Guardians Services’ senior consultant Mr Michael Montana said compilation of the EIA report was almost complete and would soon be handed over to the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) for consideration.
“We are only left with submitting an EIA report to Ema. We had two consultative meetings and one feedback meeting that were very successful. In attendance at one of the meetings was Environment Africa-Zimbabwe-Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique chief executive officer Ms Charlene Hewat.
“We are however, still waiting for a comment from the Victoria Falls Municipality and for them to inform whether they have the capacity to manage the refuse and sewer generated from the complex. There is also the modification of Spencer Road belonging to the local authority which will be used for the dropping off of commuters as well as entrance into the complex,” said Mr Montana.
He said the mall was also expected to offer affordable venues for local and international conferences.
“The project is expected to provide much needed formal and affordable businesses for the communities in Victoria Falls. There are several conferences that are hosted in Victoria Falls in conjunction with Zambia, attracting many delegates. The nature of the development will minimise negative environmental impacts and promote sustainability as the proposed plan blends in with the existing infrastructure and services. It will also promote urban restructuring, sustainable communities, and environmental and economic sustainability,” said Mr Montana.
Environmental Guardians Services is one of the country’s most reputable environmental firms which has carried out a number of projects across various sectors of the economy especially in Matabeleland region and the Midlands Province.