BCC seeks to regain industrial hub status

BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is working on an economic blueprint aimed at ensuring the city regains its industrial hub status, after suffering years of de-industrialisation.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

Councillors argue there is need for the local authority to prepare and implement an economic blueprint in line with the city’s vision, “Bulawayo, City of Kings, Leader in Local Governance with a Vibrant Economy”.

Under the proposal, Bulawayo will have an integrated masterplan, strategic plan and waste water masterplan anchored on funding from donor agencies such as the United Nations and United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) among others.

“The city needs to have an integrated plan, which will be for economic recovery and coordinated spatial development,” chamber secretary, Sikhangele Zhou is quoted saying in the latest council finance and development committee report.

“The proposal is to embark on the preparation of the plan and also submit a proposal for the Usaid and other development agencies like UN Habitat for funding the preparation of the plan. Council should put its small commitment.”

The government has bemoaned de-industrialisation of the city and promised intervention, but the promises have remained just that.

In October 2011, the government unveiled a $4 million Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) to rescue struggling Bulawayo industries, but this did little to stop the de-industrialisation, as many companies continued to close shop or relocate to other cities.

Zhou said councillors had no option but to take the lead to turn the city into an industrial hub.

“The government had promulgated the ZimAsset and Bulawayo had also been declared a special economic zone and there was an urgent need for the city to announce its presence to the world,” she said.

“The city had an operative masterplan that formed the blueprint of the development within the city. The city needed to add another dimension, which was economic development planning. We needed to think through this process and identify those activities that could make Bulawayo tick again and move forward in the face of the economic challenges.”

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