The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
Bulawayo City Council will next month be forced to cancel the multi-million dollar Egodini Bus Terminus rehabilitation tender as it is highly unlikely that the contractor, Terracotta Trading Company would have completed the first phase as agreed, Sunday News can reveal.
South African company Terracota was awarded the tender for the project, touted as a game changer in the city, but has failed to develop the area within the set deadlines.
The company was supposed to complete the first phase in November last year but failed and requested that the deadline be moved to the end of next month.
However, with a few weeks before end of the second deadline, authorities in Bulawayo have indicated that they will be left with no option but to terminate the contract and restart the process of getting another contractor.
The contractors started work in March 2018. Upon completion, the mall will have 50 shops, a bus terminus, commuter omnibus bays and modern informal trader bays with storage counters as well as taxi association offices.
“The first phase of the Egodini Project was meant to have been completed by November 2019 of which we all know that the contractor missed that deadline. They then requested that the deadline be extended until the end of the first quarter of 2020 and with what is on the ground, I do not see them meeting that deadline.
“As it stands we have a lot of pressure from our stakeholders regarding that very project, we are also under pressure from a town planning perspective in terms of our vendors and commuter omnibuses, therefore we will be forced to exercise our powers of terminating the contract if need be, of which we will be guided by the terms and conditions of the contract,” said Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube.
The project has experienced a number of false starts since Terracotta won the tender in September 2012. It was expected to gobble close to $60 million, with the company also awarded with a 99-year lease to the terminus. Mr Dube said when the local authority sets parameters for projects, there is a clear provision on the necessary steps that could be taken whenever a company fails to meet contractual obligations. Since the closure of Egodini, Bulawayo has experienced chaos in vending and commuter omnibus operations. Vendors who used to operate from Egodini have set base in the Central Business District blocking pavements and entrances to business premises.
Most of them have also refused to be relocated to new bases outside the Central Business District, arguing that business was low in the periphery of the city centre. Commuter omnibuses which used to pick up passengers at the terminus are now picking and dropping them off in the city centre.
The Egodini Project is not the only project which has fallen behind time in the city. Mr Dube said the local authority was also sweating over the US$150 million solid waste to energy project by Pragma Leaf Consulting Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd.
The project was initiated through the support of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) in 2012.
In May last year, the project developers said they were in the process of completing the front-end engineering design (FEED) study that will include acquisition of all required land and licensing, a process which was anticipated to be complete by the end of last year with construction commencing at the beginning of this year, and production of bio-fuels expected to follow thereafter.
Mr Dube also revealed that the local authority was fast losing patience with the investor as they were already in breach of the contract signed with the local authority.
“Same as Terracotta, there is nothing happening on the ground with Pragma Leaf, they just give us updates, claiming that they are still mobilising resources. As a local authority we are now becoming impatient as when you look at the contract and set timelines, Pragma Leaf is already in breach. We will soon be forced to sit down and review all these contracts so that we derive a way forward because it is the local authority that is found to be on the losing end,” he said.
According to Pragma Leaf, up to US$150 million was expected to be channelled into the project while more than 300 jobs were to be created at the plant and about 2 000 jobs downstream. In addition, a number of housing projects that were awarded to private companies have stalled in the city, drawing ire from beneficiaries.
Some beneficiaries had paid in full for their residential stands. Affected areas include Mqabuko Heights, Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle Housing project, Pelandaba West and Beuna Vista.