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Bulawayo council defends selling stands in US$

by Staff reporter
21 Mar 2019 at 07:24hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council has defended the sale of residential stands in low density areas in foreign currency, saying the pricing was on a cost recovery basis at no profit.

The city council said the move to price its stands in foreign currency was part of its strategy to navigate the socio-economic environment. Chronicle is in possession of a notice by the local authority advertising 77 residential stands in Selborne Park for pre-sale in foreign currency.

Residents have said council stands pegged in forex are over-priced.

According to the notice the stands range from a minimum of 1 575 square metres up to 2 000 square metres and have been pegged from US$26 565 with a deposit of US$9 240 required.

The council's public relations officer, Miss Bongiwe Ngwenya, declined to speak on the notice, saying said the local authority had not yet released an advert regarding the sale of stands in any area in 2019. She said council approved a Special Stands Express Programme that allows for the sale of pre-sale low density stands in foreign currency.

"However, it should be noted that stands sold by the City of Bulawayo are on a cost recovery basis, meaning that they are for the land and servicing costs at no profit.

"The council in its meeting of the November 7, 2018, approved policy strategies to address the socio-economic environment. One of the strategies was a Special Stands Express Programme that allows for the sale of pre-sale low density stands in foreign currency," said Miss Ngwenya.

She said the pre-sale of stands in foreign currency was open to both people in the diaspora and locals with access to foreign currency funds.  She added that when stands are available, the local authority will advertise and communicate the terms and conditions.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents' Association (BPRA) urged the Bulawayo City Council to provide affordable housing stands to ordinary residents to ease the city's accommodation crisis.  

BPRA acting co-ordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said while it was clear that the city council was cash-strapped and in desperate need of foreign currency, it was not fair to sell residential stands in foreign currency.

"What we suggested during the BCC financial performance review meeting was for the local authority to charge foreign currency for suppliers who demand foreign currency and to cut down on its workforce particularly the security guards who are just too many.  

"What we are seeing from these prices is that the dream of owning a house by an average resident is a pie in the sky," said Mr Ndlovu.  

He said the high cost of stands and lack of credit lines would lead to the creation of more illegal structures and squatter camps as people find alternatives to cut accommodation costs.

"It's a matter of time. People's salaries are still in RTGS and that remains the medium of tender. Where does council dream of getting such clients?  "Bulawayo is by and large a tenant city as has been said by some scholars and researchers," said Mr Ndlovu.

The city's housing waiting list stands at over 120 000, but the council has only managed to service less than 20 000 stands in the last 15 years despite the growing number of those in need of houses. The local authority is reportedly struggling to service housing stands, owing to the harsh economic climate prevailing in the country.

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Source - chroncile