Vusumuzi Dube Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has restricted burial at West Park Cemetery to 10 per day as the local authority battles the critical shortage of burial space in the city. According to the latest council report, so dire is the situation that burial space at the cemetery might not last a month hence the decision to limit daily burials to 10. West Park is currently taking 75 percent of the city’s burials.
Bulawayo has seven cemetery sites, namely, Old Luveve, Luveve Extension, Luveve 3, Hyde Park, West Park, Lady Stanley and Athlone Avenue.
“It would be recalled that over the past few years, the Department of Health Services had reported that due to its central location and accessibility, West Park Cemetery had been taking up most of the city’s burials (around 75 percent). The department had now reached a point where the space left for burial was so restricted that we cannot produce the usual quota of graves.
“At the current rate of burial, the remaining space might not last more than a month. As a result only a limited number of burials could take place on any given day. The department had now been advising mourners that up to 10 burials could be done conveniently at the cemetery per day, the rest of the burials are being referred to Luveve,” reads part of the report.
The local authority, however, revealed that those individuals who had reserved burial space will not be affected by the new position.
“Only those communities who had reserved burial space in advance (individuals, the Zimbabwe National Army, the Anglican Church and Guta Ramwari) would not be affected for some time,” reads the report.
Speaking during a recent media briefing, the Director of Health Services, Dr Zanele Hwalima said the issue of burial space was now being discussed at ministerial level where they were hoping that the Ministry of Home Affairs fast tracks the gazetting of their newly proposed site.
“We have engaged our parent ministry, the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to engage the Home Affairs Ministry so that a new site is registered as a matter of urgency,” said Dr Hwalima.
The proposed new cemetery is near Pumula South and the land used to belong to Hawkflight Construction Company.
The proposed cemetery has space measuring 52,7 hectares and is expected to accommodate between 107 350 and 114 270 graves after allowing for foot paths and driveways. Another proposed cemetery is located at Marvel Township in an area lying between the Bulawayo-Harare Road and the Bulawayo-Harare Railway Line. The area measures about 25 hectares.
Of late the council has been encouraging people to cremate their beloved ones, saying burial space at the cemeteries was fast running out. However, the local authority has claimed there is a low response from blacks to switch over to cremations, with only 12 cremations having been recorded in February this year.