BY PATRICIA SIBANDA RESIDENTS at Sidojiwe flats, Bulawayo are resisting an order by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to vacate the premises following decommissioning of the apartments.
The Sidojiwe flats were condemned as unsafe for human habitation last year.
Mayor Solomon Mguni called for immediate decongestion of the overcrowded flats at a meeting organised by the International Organisation for Migration last year.
At the meeting, Mguni said the situation at Sidojiwe flats, which were built during the colonial era for the working class in the Belmont industrial area, was dire.
The flats, with a carrying capacity of 200 families, reportedly now accommodate double that figure.
Deputy director of housing Dictor Khumalo told Southern Eye that council was collecting insignificant revenue in rentals, which was inadequate to rehabilitate the apartments.
“The Sidojiwe and Burombo rentals only cover provision of services such as water and refuse collection among other things. There are minimal charges that are being paid by residents because those places were designated for social housing. So their rentals are very low and they do not cover what we call the capital expenditure,” Khumalo said.
“There is lack of funding to revamp the two places, especially Sidojiwe. The challenge with the infrastructure in those areas is that it is old and dilapidated. We need capital funding to be able to attend to the needs of that infrastructure and to improve the amenities. So there is a funding gap in terms of meeting the fundamental infrastructure challenges there.”
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Khumalo said they tried to decongest Sidojiwe by giving out stands to the residents.
“Due to the difficult economic situation and high poverty levels, people preferred to stay in that area. Sidojiwe was decommissioned long back and is supposed to be used for industrial activities. Where we had stands, especially in places like Cowdray Park, we were giving them out to the people of Sidojiwe.
“At the Burombo area, we are currently working on something to try to improve the sewer reticulation system there. We hope that something will be done soon in that area,” he added.
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