The Sunday News
Qinisani Qali Ndlovu.
THE zeal to build tends to engulf a person at the expense of other critical issues, the excitement of buying a piece of land, building and providing a roof over their loved ones’ heads can be overwhelming at times. It becomes easy to overlook issues such as servicing (ukusevisa).
Services forms the basics of infrastructure delivery, and as such are provided and governed by different parties. This is one issue that beneficiaries or land buyers tend to neglect, setting up contractors at times land developers and local authorities on a collision course. In this article the writer attempts to demystify the grey area commonly known as sites and services.
Sites and Services
Peal in his 1982 writing is of the idea that site and services entails the provision of land either under ownership or land lease tenure coupled by a bare minimum of essential infrastructure that would deem the land habitable. When it comes to the construction aspect of the scheme, land developers have the leeway to build and sell complete houses, or allow individuals to construct their desired houses.
A recent example of this site and services framework, by a land developer is the Hopeville City development along airport road in Bulawayo. Under sites and services the local authority or the land developer lays out infrastructure that includes, roads, schools, open spaces, commercial spaces, health and leisure centres. Many scholars and experts argue that the Achilles heel of such frameworks has always been cost recovery, by right the model should be able to recover cost and replicate the project elsewhere.
It is important for the reader to understand that the cost of servicing has a direct impact on the final cost of buying the land, and some “hidden costs” lead to economic segregation in our society. Servicing can take a variety of forms depending on the financial cost of servicing, budget and disposable income of potential buyers.
Proceedings of the DII-2015 Conference on Infrastructure Development held in Zambia, found that that servicing can take different forms such as the traditional Planning-Servicing-Building-Occupation (PSBO) framework, or the informal Occupation-Building-Planning-Servicing (OBPS) framework. Lastly the conference’s findings suggest another form of servicing, the Planning-Occupation-Building-Servicing (POBS) sequence.
Which according to the conference findings was innovatively implemented by Zimbabwe through its Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle programmes.
Implementation of the PSBO Framework (Planning, Servicing, Building and Occupancy)
As alluded to in the sites and services section, the PSBO is the recommended model that forms the basis of all planning systems.
The implementation of the PSBO occurs in cycles, the first stage of the sequence begins with structure planning and zoning. Structure Plans can be said to be plans that assist planners in the coordinated provision of services, infrastructure, land use and development of an area. Structure Plans affect what you can do with your property.
Zoning is employed in land use planning and its basic definition is the apportionment of land for different uses. After this process the developer/local authority must provide basic trunk infrastructure (roads, and sewer and water reticulation systems). This is followed by what is called land assembly, were the smaller parcels of land are merged to come up with one large parcel of land.
One has to note that the minimum time taken for this cycle is 10 years, coupled with other factors, this should explain why local councils in Zimbabwe take so long to deliver serviced land to the people. Once these three processes are done, the area is now called a site, which is where the term site plan is derived from.
Here, individuals and developers apply for site plans and sub-division permits, followed by provision of local services. The individual developer can at this point sell off the land as stands or go on to the construction stage followed by occupancy.
Notable land delivery
projects in Bulawayo
The Bulawayo City Council has a host of projects that it carries out in a bid to deliver housing to its residents, some are spearheaded by private developers and sub-contractors.
Hopeville City Development
Hopeville City is a 650 hectare development located approximately 10km along Airport Road, the development aims to provide 15 000 housing units. The area is undergoing servicing by renowned private developer, John Ross Goddard. According to a 2017 newspaper report, the area shall be serviced with street lights, tarred roads, sewer, electricity and water. T
he article goes on to state that the intention is that houses will be built in both clusters, and townhouse complexes initial indications are that each unit could start from as little as US$50 000 each, at US$32 per square metre.
The Bulawayo City Council, allocated 900 high-density residential stands of which 16 were commercial stands in Luveve 5. It is on record that the stands were surveyed in 2013 and released in 2018. Services included electricity, sewer, and water and tarred roads. The price of a 200m2 stand was pegged at US$4 500.
Emhlangeni is in Ward 3, adjacent to Romney Park and Paddonhurst. The project was a PSBO pre-sale that aimed to avail 391 medium density stands. (The reader will recall that in the introduction of the article, the cost of servicing was mentioned as an important factor to take cognisance of). Emhlangeni was serviced at a cost of $2, 9 million. The serviced area had a total length of 5 320 metres for sewer, 7 420 for water and 6 250 metres made up of roads. To purchase the cheapest stand of 640m2 one would fork out US$9 600, while the largest stands of 1 500m2 attracted a price of US$20 300.
Challenges of the PSBO Model
The conventional method of housing development, although highly favoured by UNHabitat is not without its flaws. The model is deemed to be time consuming as the planning and servicing stages take a lot of time. The model has been dubbed as a vehicle for elitist to profiteer at the expense of the low income earners.
In as much as the model is suited and targets low income earners, the final cost price is beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans, without mentioning the cost of construction. Trynos Gumbo, in his papers, housing the urban poor, experiences of un- serviced housing plots and The Architecture that Works in Housing the Urban Poor in Developing Countries in Africa, attacks this model as he states that the model produces very few houses which are unaffordable.
The other shortfall of PSBO frameworks is the high rate of default by buyers. However, a section of urban planners advocates for use of this model as it is orderly and conventional.
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