THE Egodini mall project has got off to another false start, as Bulawayo City Council failed to meet Thursday’s deadline to begin the much-hyped rehabilitation of Basch Street bus terminus into a regional public transport hub and shopping mall.
BY TALENT GUMPO/ ALEXIS SIBANDA/ SINDISO DUBE
Bulawayo City Council and Tearracotta Private Limited, the contractors of the $60 million Egodini mall, have pushed the relocation of informal traders and commuter omnibuses to a further two weeks.
The project, which business analysts believe will attract more investors into the city and boost economic activity through job creation, failed to take off on the set date, with vendors and commuters in the area delighted as they continued with their day-to-day business.
Tearracotta director Thulani Moyo said informal traders operating from the area needed more time to relocate to enable the local council to provide vacant possession of the site to the developer.
“We are aware that informal traders organisations collectively wrote a letter to Bulawayo City Council last week Friday asking for an extension of time to allow for all their members to relocate from the site to the new designated areas,” he said.
“We are made to believe that a tentative agreement was reached by both parties that an additional week or two would be given to those informal traders who are not in a position to relocate by the deadline of today (Thursday).”
Moyo said the decision to extend the deadline by two more weeks was practical, as it was not feasible to transform the site, while it was still occupied by non-construction personnel.
“Notwithstanding, we hope that those informal traders are ready to move immediately will do so and that it is only those who are not yet ready to move that will gradually leave the site over the next two weeks,” he said.
“Due to the nature and size of the project, together with the different number of affected stakeholders, we anticipate a number of hurdles that we will have to jointly overcome to ensure that all concerned stakeholders are addressed.”
BCC senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu said council consulted stakeholders to prepare for the relocation, with most of them expressing readiness to move from site.
“Such consultative meeting held with the informal traders, they indicated that they would wish to have more time to allow them to relocate the Basch Street Terminus,” Mpofu said.
The project has, over the last five years, been met with bickering, leading to its failure to take of due to political fights amid claims that Zanu PF wanted to hijack it.
This was followed by another blow, where some council officials were linked to the South African civil engineering firm Terracotta, which won the tender.
Boardroom squabbles also took over, with clashes between the contractor and service providers’ querying why a South African company had won the tender when there were local companies which could do the same job, with some querying the tendering process.
Egodini harbours over 1 000 informal traders and transport operators who eke a living from there given the limited alternative economic opportunities in the country.