‘Local authorities stalling development’

Martin Kadzere
INFRASTRUCTURE Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) chief executive Mr Thomas Sakhala has said local authorities’ bureaucratic processes are slowing down the implementation of housing and other key infrastructure development projects.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, the IDBZ boss came out guns blazing, saying there is need to put the national interest at heart.

The IDBZ is tasked with spearheading Zimbabwe’s infrastructure development. The bank is at various stages of developing housing projects countrywide, targeting low to high income earners.

The institution is also developing accommodation facilities for tertiary students and health professionals.

“People work at their own pace,” said Mr Sakhala.

“There is no shared urgency to say this project, for it to move, requires me and you. Even the work we are doing here at IDBZ, we have met some challenges, I can give you practical examples.

“We had a hand-over ceremony for New Marimba (stands) a year ago. We have done all the physical works. What is now required is a certificate of compliance from the council and that should not take forever,” he said.

“When there is an effort, there should be that sense of urgency. In Marimba Phase Two, which is high density, we are still going back and forth with engineers yet to do inspections and give approval.”

He said the bank had faced similar challenges in the Clipsham Views Phase One housing project until it approached higher offices for help. The project then received necessary approvals before stalling again for a long period.

In Masvingo, Mr Sakhala said the bank faced another hiccup and only got compliance approvals after engaging the Mayor at the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

“The place is now flooded with people bringing in their bricks. They were just waiting for that to happen.

‘‘It is important to make sure all the relevant departments are properly briefed on where we are going as a nation and what is expected of them.”

Mr Sakhala said considering the huge demand for housing, stakeholders should work efficiently.

Zimbabwe is faced with a housing backlog of an estimated 1,3 million units.

Mr Sakhala said while IDBZ is continuously engaging local authorities, they still have their own way of doing things.

Recently, property owners in Bulawayo’s Selbourne Park, Matsheumhlope and Riverside protested against the construction of accommodation facilities at the National University of Science and Technology, arguing such development would cause overpopulation.

Commenting on the protests, Mr Sakhala described the event as unfortunate.

“Our facility is not just for NUST. The student population is continuously growing and that is what people need to bear in mind, that it is important to bring up our future leaders in a respectable environment,” he said.

“Those complaints are counterproductive. Some of the residents’ homes are overcrowded by students who are renting from them, this development will bring sanity,” he said.

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