The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE Bulawayo City Council has condemned more than 100 buildings in the Central Business District that are facing different levels of dilapidation and are in need of urgent renovation work.
The local authority has also expressed concern over lack of interest by the owners of the buildings to work on them after they have been engaged saying it was going to pursue the legal route to force them to act. In recent years the city has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of abandoned, neglected and derelict buildings in the CBD.
Responding to questions from Sunday News, the local authority’s corporate communications manager, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said they have since condemned 107 buildings in the CBD where they have also issued the building owners with notices to rehabilitate their structures. It has however, emerged that majority of the building owners have ignored the warnings which has forced the local authority to approach the courts to get orders to shut off the buildings.
“As of 6 March 2023, there are 107 condemned buildings. There is resistance and reluctance by some owners. This culminates in council charging the owners heavy penalties. Despite penalising the owners some don’t act resulting in the city resorting to the court system.
“Council has no control of the court processes thereafter and we will act as guided by the court orders,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She confirmed that just a small percentage of the property owners adhere to the notices given by the local authority, while the rest just choose to ignore. According to a detailed list of the condemned buildings provided by the local authority, of the 107 buildings, 43 had no attempt to address the anomalies identified by BCC, 51 had partially complied while 13 had complied with the order to rehabilitate their buildings.
As per statutory obligations the local authority issues notices to identified properties and also has latitude in terms of the statutory provisions to carry out such operations to remove the offending danger or nuisance to the public at the cost of the landlord. BCC also has the authority to repossess such properties as guided by the Titles Registration and Derelict Lands Act (chapter 20:20).
In 2017, the local authority passed a resolution to demolish a building that was burnt down in an inferno as it now posed a danger to the public, however, the process is still hanging as council awaits a court order to ahead with the demolition.
The building which is at the corner of 11th Avenue and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street near Magnet House, is owned by Nicktrend Investments Services and has been vacant for some years. The Bulawayo City Council’s inspectorate conducts buildings inspections in accordance with the Bulawayo (Building, Roads and Streets) by-laws of 1971.