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Luxury car purchases rile Gweru residents

by Staff reporter
15 Mar 2021 at 05:02hrs | Views
MRS Naome Mashoko is a resident of Mkoba 6 suburb in Gweru and for the past two weeks, she has been forced to walk a long distance to fetch water from a borehole at Mkoba Six Shopping Centre.

Mrs Mashoko, a mother of two, says she is now used to receiving WhatsApp messages from Gweru City Council like this one: "We are currently facing a serious water supply challenges. We have lost two electric motors in the space of two weeks due to under voltage and power outage at Gwenhoro Water Works."

Week in and week out, there is always a fault which can be along the main water pipes or at Gwenhoro Water Works which disrupts water supplies. Mrs Mashoko said when she learnt recently that council had spent US$170 000 to buy aToyota Prado meant for the fired Town Clerk Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza, she was very disturbed.

She said she could not understand why the cash-strapped council which is facing a plethora of service delivery challenges affecting residents from uncollected refuse, dry taps and roads littered with potholes, could prioritise buying of vehicles.

The Toyota Prado which is a top-of-the-range vehicle, was unveiled together with two KB Max vehicles bought by land developers CASAS and Wackdrive Investments at a cost of US$26 200 and US$30 500 respectively.

Council resolved to have the two vehicles instead of receiving cash which could have been US$56 700. Added to the cost of the Toyota Prado, the local authority spent US$226 700 on vehicles which Mrs Mashoko said could have been channelled towards service delivery.

Ms Gwatipedza was suspended in October 2019 for misconduct before she could drive the vehicle and was subsequently dismissed on December 2 following a disciplinary hearing.

"I heard our council purchased a Prado and went on to receive two more vehicles when they could have been paid cash by land developers. This shows that these people at town house only think about personal gains. It's not like the vehicles will be used to improve service delivery. Look, I am coming from fetching water from a borehole.

"If council had drilled more boreholes across the city using these funds, residents could not be walking long distances to fetch water. At the same time the roads are bad and they could have used the money to repair roads in the Central Business District which are now filled with potholes," said Mrs Mashoko.

Gweru Residents Association committee member Mr Frank Mazoera said it's not proper for council to buy vehicles at the expense of service delivery.

"Their priorities show that they don't have respect for residents. It's fast becoming a reality that they are after personal gains, packages and fattening their pockets. Look, why should they continue to ration water in areas like Senga and Mkoba? To make things worse we have areas like Mkoba 21 where water is scarce. Council could have drilled more boreholes or bought spare parts needed so that they increase water supplies to meet the city's daily consumption," he said.

Residents said a health hazard is looming because council is not collecting refuse regularly because its trucks are constantly breaking down and at times it does not have the fuel. The whole road network is now filled with potholes, a development that has seen even Zupco buses not servicing some suburbs.

Gweru mayor Cllr Josiah Makombe said the two service delivery vehicles council received from the two land developers were part of the contract between the local authority and the companies. He said the Toyota Prado was now one of the pool cars after it had been lying idle for a year following an outcry from residents who wanted it sold to buy service delivery vehicles.

"The vehicle was bought in 2019 and was delivered last year but due to outcry from residents, it had been parked. We wanted to sell it but the procurement laws do not allow us to sell without going to tender. We also wanted to auction it but realised we were going to get less than what we spent.

"We also tried to swap it for service delivery vehicles with those who sold us the vehicle but again procurement laws made it difficult. We were left with no option but to commission it as one of the pool cars," he said.

The council spokesperson Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee said council had agreed with the two land developers that they were going to buy it vehicles as part of their contract and there was nothing amiss in the arrangement.

"As a local authority we needed the vehciles which we believe are contributing to improved service delivery," she said.

Commenting on the continued water rationing despite the fact that the supply dams, Gwenhoro and Amapongogwe are spilling, Ms Chingwaramusee said council was failing to pump enough water to meet the city's daily consumption.

"We are pumping 25Ml a day which is far less than the city's daily water consumption hence the rationing. We have to upgrade our pumping capacity to meet the daily consumption now that we have enough water in our supply dams," she said.

Ms Chingwaramusee said Gweru like the rest of the country was affected by the heavy rains received this cropping season which damaged roads.

She said since Government declared the country's road network a State of Disaster, council hoped to benefit fro the resources that are being mobilised by Central Government for road repairs and other infrastructure such as bridges.

Source - chronicle