New Dispensation puts Beitbridge on road to transformation

21 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
New Dispensation puts Beitbridge on road  to transformation Workers fixing a portion of the road which is being upgraded between the Beitbridge Border Post and the highways leading to Bulawayo and Harare

The Sunday News

Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE story of Beitbridge town’s transformation has since independence been that of many intentions and less action.

In fact, year after year, life has mainly been swinging from one end to another but proffering little significant improvement in terms of service delivery and general development.

The town has been growing rapidly at the instigation of the government through the National Economic Development Priority Programme in 2006, which gave birth to the Beitbridge Redevelopment Programme (BRP).

The Government at that time spent millions of dollars in face-lifting the port into a modern urban centre, after the port was granted town status in the same year before its upgrading into a municipality in 2018.

The BRP programme includes the construction of 16 blocks of flats to house 64 families, mainly middle-class civil servants, 250 core houses (for home ownership), 52 by F14 houses for civil servants, road dualisation, upgrading water supply, and sewer infrastructure in the town.

Other institutional facilities are a hospital, primary school, secondary school, civic centre, and a new Government composite office block, modern truck inn, shopping complex, a five-star hotel, an aerodrome, and the upgrading of the current border post to meet world-class standards.

With the fast pace that has been injected by the New Dispensation under President Mnangagwa, civil works  on two-thirds of these projects are nearing completion, while others have been completed, and the Government needs a further US$6,2 million to complete the outstanding civil works.

The town has an estimated population of 70 000, and a daily transit population of 15 000 people, and the border clear about 7 million travellers annually. In addition, 2 100 buses, 25 000 private cars, and 15 000 trucks pass through the town monthly.

Beitbridge new houses

A decade after the launch of the BRP, the Government’s ambitious programme started folding and the town’s economic development plans went off the rails owing to a number of factors. These include the negative economic climate and human-induced inefficiency by some Government departments at the border post.

However, things have started to turn around again for the better since the coming in of the New Dispensation. A lot of money has been invested in the town on infrastructure development, with Treasury pouring $597 million into the BRP housing projects this year.

Additionally, the Government through the Zimborders consortium is modernising the border at a cost of US$300 million.

Among other things, 264 housing units for border workers are being constructed to address perennial accommodation woes for the Government workers.

Last Wednesday, President Mnangagwa commissioned 28 by F14 houses built under the BRP initiative and also directed the Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities to speed up the completion of the outstanding housing units.

This follows the recent launch of the Zimbabwe National Human Settlements Policy (ZNHSP) in which the Government intends to build 225 000 housing units by 2025, which will have ripple effects on other sectors of the economy such as the manufacturing industry among others.

“I have instructed the responsible ministry to expedite the completion of the remaining standalone houses and resumption of works on the apartment units. We are in the midst of mobilising more financial resources to ensure that we complete all stalled national housing projects across the country,” said the President.

This, he added, will see the Government achieving its goal of guaranteeing that Zimbabweans have access to decent and affordable housing in line with the aspirations of the recently launched Zimbabwe Human Settlements Policy.

“The resultant increase in construction activity will also stimulate economic growth given the upstream and the downstream linkages of the infrastructure development sector. We will build our country alone and none will do it for us, we will rule our country alone, none will help us on that aspect,” he said.

The President said the Government was also adopting the application of new building technologies to cut costs and shorten the construction time of more housing units.

“As we move towards the attainment of Vision 2030, the Government has adopted the concept of urban regeneration and renewal throughout the country. The Ministries of National Housing and that of Public Works are seized with this matter. In fact, the Second Republic will leave no stone unturned towards restoring order, the dignity of persons and access to housing services in all communities,” he added.

President Mnangagwa said proper planning and provision of requisite ancillary services was critical in housing development. The rapid construction of houses for civil servants has been seen by many Beitbridge residents as a good move to address border efficient management issues by the Government.

Ms Sarudzai Moyo said the construction of more housing units for Government workers would go a long way in boosting morale and other work-related challenges. Another resident, Ms Rebeca Ndou said they were excited with the rate at which the border town was being transformed by the government.

“The level of infrastructure development in our town, especially on the border, water infrastructure, housing, and roads is impressive and has helped create opportunities for local residents,” said Mr Phefumula Sibanda.
Beitbridge Town Clerk Mr Loud Ramakgapola said the progress taking place in the town was appreciated and would improve the life of ordinary people in the town.

“The border upgrade is first class and it will attract more traffic and people into the town. The construction of the water reservoir, sewer upgrade, fire station and road infrastructure will also improve the lives of ordinary citizens.

“The completion of the Government flats along the highway will improve the town’s image and provide the needed accommodation for our hard-working civil servants,” he said.

Mr Ramakgapola said urgent attention was needed in health facilities and that a stand for a new hospital had already been identified. He said the local authority was also working on putting up a primary school, a clinic, and a library.

“We are also implementing the Emergency Roads Repairs Programme funded by Government, constructing and surfacing our roads to improve the state of the roads. In the next three to six months, this town will be very different in terms of infrastructural development. There is a huge interest in investing in this town, and at the moment we are working on extending our current Central Business District (CBC).

“The extended CBD to be located opposite Mashavire Business Centre will be very modern and have first-class high-rise buildings. The interest in this CBD extension is quite huge. Currently, the local authority is waiting for the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works to approve the extension plans. Once approved, we anticipate massive infrastructural development,” said Mr Ramakgapola.

Beitbridge Business Association coordinator, Mr Clevers Moyo was excited about the transformation of the border town.

“We expect the municipality to avail more commercial stands to deserving businesses, who are able to construct modern business structures and parks to complement the Government effort in transforming our town. This is time for the council to attract investors who would build modern shopping malls.

As a resident, I would expect more street lights and more serious landscaping by our local authority to complement this modernisation,” said Mr Moyo.

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