The Sunday News
Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THREE years ago, there was little progress in the City of Progress, as Gweru is affectionately known, as littered streets, uncollected garbage, dry taps and pothole infested roads became a defining character of the city.
The roads resulted in transport operators shunning certain routes for fear of damaging their vehicles. However, through the Devolution agenda pushed by the Second Republic, the City of Progress is recording massive success in terms of improving service delivery. The city has managed to purchase refuse trucks and skip bins which have gone towards removing litter in the Central Business District to the low-and high-density suburbs.
Council also received a backhoe loader from its smart partnership with Gweru City Parking. Recently, the Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Larry Mavima commissioned the four skip bins worth over $689 000 which were purchased under the Devolution Funds and a truck backhoe loader worth $14 million from Gweru City Parking.
A local car dealer Duly’s also donated 10 bins for use in the CBD so that people have points to put litter instead of dumping it everywhere. Minister Mavima said it was the Second Republic’s wish that people breathe, sleep and eat devolution through improved service delivery. He said the Government was committed to improving the lives of the people through people centered projects such as the purchasing of service delivery equipment, roads rehabilitation among others.
“We are here to commission the four skip bins worth $689 240 bought by the council through the devolution funds. Government is committed to improving the livelihoods of people through this fund which if utilised properly will bring positive growth to cities like Gweru.
“On the other hand, Gweru City Council entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with City Park and a backhoe worth over $14 million has been purchased. Duly’s has also donated litter bins to be spread across town,” said Minister Mavima.
He said the partnership with City Park was bearing fruits as evidenced by the purchasing of the backhoe.
“I can say when City Park was introduced, they became motorists’ number one enemy. Motorists would just park their vehicles in the middle of the road disrupting smooth flow of traffic.
“There was disorder in the CBD but City Park has brought order. At the same time, it is bringing money for the city and we commend such PPPs which improve service delivery,” said Minister Mavima.
He urged the local authority to formulate and enforce bylaws to make it mandatory for fast food outlets to put bins across the CBD so that their clients don’t dump empty food boxes anywhere.
“Gweru is turning into a smart city and that momentum should be kept. We need bylaws to make it mandatory for fast food outlets to put in place bins all over the city so that their clients have somewhere to throw the empty food boxes.
“Yes, some have bins on their premises but most of the time their clients buy and eat their food elsewhere where they then dump the empty boxes,” said Minister Mavima.
Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe said the devolution funds were indeed changing the face of Gweru in terms of service delivery. He said in the past three years, service delivery through devolution funds and some smart partnerships was improving.
Cllr Makombe added that the four skip bins were procured using Devolution Funds at a total cost of $689 240 while the public partnership with Gweru City Parking got them a dividend of $14 794 220.17 from where they used $6 179 785 to procure a backhoe loader.
“We have another PPP with Bentach at Kudzanayi Long Distance Bus Terminus and it should also bring returns that will improve service delivery. But after all has been said and done, Devolution Funds are really coming in handy for the local authority.
‘‘Over the past three years, we have managed to improve service delivery from water supply, rehabilitation of roads among other projects using devolution funds. We appreciate the Second Republic for the funds that are changing the face of the City of Progress,” he said.
Cllr Makombe said roads were also being rehabilitated under the Government driven Emergency Roads Rehabilitation programme.
“There are also contract employees who have been engaged to clear storm drains so that we avoid flooding houses like what happened in January,” he said.
In 2019, the city council received $84 million which went towards the four low lying water pumps. Soon the council realised that there was a need for additional high lift pumps at the water station to meet the increase in water coming from the dam for purification.
The existing water pumps were installed in 1959 and they were constantly breaking down and spare parts were not readily available.
Last year the city was allocated about $42 million which went towards the purchase of three high lift water pumps.
This year, it was further allocated $132 million which is earmarked for four different categories aimed at improving service delivery.
After the installation of the high and low lift pumps- council from the $132 million has used about $50 million to purchase a transformer for Gwenhoro water works to improve the water pumping capacity. Gweru acting director of finance Mr Owen Masimba said council has managed to improve water availability to the residents thanks to the devolution funds.
“In 2019 we received $84 million which we used to purchase low lift water pumps for Amapongobwe dam. In 2020 we received about $42 million for high light pumps since there was an increase in water from the dam which needed to be purified.
“The money was used to replace some pumps which were installed in 1959 which were breaking down time and again. So, we appreciate the Government for the devolution funds,” he said.
Mr Masimba said after installing the low and high lift pumps, they bought a transformer to make sure that there are no problems when it comes to pumping water as long as there is power from Zesa.
He said from the $134 million allocated by the government this year, they had already used about $50 million towards the purchasing of the transformer.
The remaining part of Devolution Funds is going to go towards rehabilitation of Whitewater’s water treatment plants sand filters.
“We have earmarked about $33,2 million towards Whitewaters dam sand filters to trap solid impurities before water is purified. Water from Whitewaters dam supplies WhaWha prison, Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base,” said Mr Masimba.
Previously, before the Government chipped in with devolution funds which saw the council purchasing four low lift water pumps to pump water from Amapongobwe dam to the water pumping station at Gwenhoro – the high lying suburbs would go for months with dry taps.