BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) could be losing millions of dollars in potential revenue from hundreds of lettable shops that have mushroomed in the city and are not paying licence fees and other related penalties.
According to a recent BCC draft policy document on small lettable unit shops within the central business district, authorities are proposing that lettable unit shops that do not have permits must be closed.
Council described a lettable unit shop as: “A part of the building on the premises designed or intended for letting or exclusive occupation, which does not prejudice the use of the remainder of the building on the premises for separate self-contained occupation.”
Council’s town, lands, and planning committee produced the policy document on lettable unit shops to ensure easy regulation and licensing, while also boosting the growth of the SMEs sector and enhancing revenue collection as well as controlling illegal vendors.
“Most of the lettable unit shops are illegal as they do not have development permits which make them legitimate. Some of them have since applied for a development permit. However, they are already operating, meaning that they have not complied with the statutory provisions of the establishment of the same,” the draft policy document read in part.
“As such there is a need to properly guide and control the establishment of lettable unit shops in terms of their location within the city, type of partitioning, display of merchandise, classes of goods to be sold, space allocation and utilisation as well as hygiene issues.
“The issue of licensing of premises is key to the smooth operation of the same. In light of this, there is need to license individual lettable unit shops, instead of licensing the premises/buildings that house the same.”
Currently, the city has a total of 22 premises and properties that house lettable unit shops.
“Only six premises have development permits, five have applied for development permits and their applications are at various stages of processing. The other 13 are operating without licenses,” the draft policy revealed.
“In light of this it is suggested that those that do not have permits should be closed as they are illegal and the city should allow the establishment of at least 11 lettable unit shops excluding those that have development permits and those that have applied for development permits. This would give a total of at least 20 lettable unit shops within the city.”
A council report shows that most of the lettable unit shops were concentrated along 5th Avenue, George Silundika Street and 4th Avenue, Fife Street, Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo Street, Jason Moyo Street and Lobengula Street.
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