LODGES in Bulawayo are operating at below 15% of capacity and a number have shut down owing to a $150 development levy charged by the city council every month, it has emerged.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
According to lodge owners, the Bulawayo City Council introduced a $150 development levy and was charging it every month since 2014.
The levy, they said, has had a negative impact on the sector with some players ceasing operations while others had slowed down.
“We were made to pay $150 per month to city council as development levy and this has crippled some of our operations considering the lack of business. We are not getting any business and the development is threatening the viability of lodges,” said one lodge owner, who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation.
In addition to the levy, lodge owners said there was water and electricity bills and “you will realise that by the end of month your bill would be way above $300 yet the business is so low”
“On average, most lodges in Bulawayo are operating at between 15% and 20% capacity and a lot of them have shut down because of the levy. Our wish is to provide employment but the council is killing that spirit,” one lodge owner also said.
Lodge owners said the levy was uncalled for as it was supposed to be paid once when one was getting a permit not monthly as it was.
However, another lodge owner said following their engagement with the city authorities, on Sunday this week some of them (lodge owners) received their bills indicating that the levy has been slashed to $10 from $150.
“We welcome the development, but we want to know what will happen to the arrears we accumulated over 18 months period following the introduction of that levy.
This is because we used that levy to retrench people and we wish to re-hire them as we are understaffed,” the lodge owner added.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said even though he was not aware of the issue, the fee was too exorbitant.
“It’s very unfair if they are doing that. How can they do that? I will enquire from the Bulawayo office and get to understand that,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the city council proved fruitless as from Friday last week.