The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has since January condemned 14 buildings in the city with the owners given warnings and ordered to rectify the anomalies.
This comes at a time that the local authority has revealed that while it pushes to frequently inspect buildings in the city to ensure safety, this is being hampered by lack of adequate resources. Responding to questions from Sunday News, BCC corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said council needed more vehicles and personnel to improve inspection capabilities. Last year, the local authority condemned 35 buildings in the Central Business District (CBD).
Mhlahlandlela Government Complex, Zimpost, the Registrar-General’s office and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority were also exposed by the city’s fire department as being prone to fire.
“In terms of the Model building by-laws, the City of Bulawayo through the Housing and Community Services Department carries out mandatory inspections, which are for new construction and renovations as per approved plans. These are done on request by developers/residents.
There are also routine inspections that the department does on complete buildings. These are a departmental work initiative programme. Inspections are done daily except weekends and public holidays. The resources are not enough in terms of staff and vehicles,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said for Government buildings, the inspections are done through the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
“Any dilapidated or degraded building identified; the owner is given a notice to address the defect failure to which a heavy penalty is imposed. If still not rectified and the matter is still a danger to the public, council can rectify at the expense of the property owner.
The city already has an annual comprehensive programme for inspecting public buildings through the relevant inter-departmental team comprising the Fire Brigade, Health and Building Inspectorate. To date, 41 have been inspected with 27 of them approved. Fourteen have issues that are being attended to by the property owners,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Meanwhile, the local authority has approached the courts seeking an order to demolish a building that was burnt by fire four years ago in the city. The building, which is located at the corner of Joshua Mqabuko Street and 11th Avenue burnt down in June 2017, with council passing a resolution to demolish the structure after noting it as unsafe and an eyesore.
Speaking at a media briefing last week, BCC Director of Housing and Community Services, Mr Dictor Khumalo revealed that they had faced complications in implementing the resolution as the property owner was adamant that they could salvage the structure.
“We managed to trace the property owner in Kwekwe to inform him of the pending demolishing, he, however, claimed that he could salvage the structure.
We then engaged a structural engineer who confirmed that there was nothing to salvage. We have thus approached the courts to see whether we cannot get an order to go ahead with the demolishing resolution,” said Mr Khumalo. A number of buildings in the city have been abandoned by their owners, some going unoccupied for a number of years.