BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council has recorded a 35% decline in applications for building plans in a clear sign that home seekers are struggling to raise much needed fees for the crucial services.
The decline translates into lack of housing development plans at a time when the local authority is also battling a housing backlog of over 120 000.
It costs US$100 to get a housing plan approved, but most home seekers have said the fee is beyond reach in the face of the economic downturn.
Latest council minutes under the building control section monthly report reveal that the council’s housing and community department only received a total of 175 building plans in December with a total value of US$2million.
“A total of 175 building plans with a value of US$2 443 007 were approved in December, constituting a decrease of 35.90% compared to the previous month’s figure,” the minutes read in part.
“A total of 242 building plans with a value of US$3 733 619 were submitted in December 2021, an increase of 3.42% compared to the October figure.”
“A total of 2549 inspections were carried out in December 2021 constituting a decrease of 16.2% as compared to the previous month total.
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“Transportation continues to hinder the section’s monitoring activities as most of our staff members did not have reliable vehicles and, therefore, continued to source vehicles from sister sections that were equally busy to augment locomotion.”
The local authority regularly repossesses housing stands from owners after failing to develop them within the stipulated time-frame as guided by the Titles Registration and Derelict Lands Act.
Under the Act, council is empowered to repossess and sell undeveloped housing stands.
Council once sought a partnership deal with the Local Government ministry for the construction of residential flats in the sprawling Cowdray Park and Emganwini high density suburbs to ease the city’s housing backlog.
Council has also lifted the suspension on the sale of housing stands on pre-sale to prevent desperate home-seekers setting up illegal settlements.