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Gwanda in financial dire straits


Gwanda municipality is facing a serious shortage of vehicles, with the town operating without an ambulance while the mayor and other top council officials go to work on foot, NewsDay has learnt.

The local authority blames the failure to procure vehicles on unpaid rates which now run above $3 million.

Gwanda mayor Lionel DeNecker yesterday confirmed the crisis and said council urgently needed an ambulance to service the town.

He said the council had since budgeted for the purchase of the much-needed ambulance.

“We have budgeted between $8 000 and $10 000 for the purchasing of an ambulance. We already have the money and we will buy the vehicle soon,” DeNecker said.

Top council officials, he added, were using personal vehicles to conduct the local authority’s business as the municipality relies on one car.

“Housing director, treasurer, town clerk, engineer, chamber secretary and the mayor have no vehicles and this is a serious challenge that needs attention,” he added.

DeNecker said in the 2011 budget, the municipality had budgeted for over $40 000 for vehicles, but that would remain a pipe dream because residents simply did not pay rates.

He said the refuse collection tractor was nearly obsolete and it constantly broke down, forcing the local authority to accumulate a serious garbage collection back log.

“We have this year budgeted about $25 000 at least to be able to purchase two tractors for refuse collection, but we have financial problems. Residents don’t want to settle their debts on time and that is a serious setback for council operations,” DeNecker said.

“As we speak, residents owe the town over $3 million and it that were to be paid it would make a great difference to Gwanda” he said.

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