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Clash over beer gardens rates

by Vusumuzi Dube
21 Aug 2016 at 09:06hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council and franchises of Ingwebu Breweries' owned beer gardens are at loggerheads over rates and rentals charged by the local authority with council now considering reducing the number of water closets and refuse bins at each beer hall so as to cut rates. The local authority claims that historically the outlets sat on big land, which was largely not suitable for any development.

According to the latest council report the local authority is further considering subdividing land where beer gardens are located after noting that in most cases there is a lot of excess land which is being under-utilised.

In justifying the possible decision to reduce the number of toilets and bins within these facilities, the council's valuation department noted that the beer gardens were already being levied a lot because of high number of bins and too many operational toilets.

"It is noted that the beer gardens are levied too many toilets and waste solid collection bins. Each beer garden could be sufficiently be serviced by five water closets and two bins and this could drastically reduce rates. It should also be further noted that even after reducing the number of toilets and solid waste bins, the total rates levied remain high. Therefore, in view of the foregoing, it is proposed that a special tariff rate for beer gardens be introduced," reads part of the council report.

The local authority further noted that while it had previously resolved the reduction of land used by these beer gardens, very few had complied citing financial challenges.

"Council of 3 October 2012 had approved subdivisions of the outlets and only three were sub-divided. The Bulawayo Municipal Commercial Undertaking had cited lack of resources to complete the subdivisions of these outlets and also had con-comitant challenges such as the rocky outcrop within the outlets.

"The lessees or owner would then be required to erect new boundary walls after sub-division. The current culture and trends of patronage leave outlets with a lot of under-utilised land.

"BMCU had in the past raised the issue of the excessive rates being charged for beer gardens and attributed the greater portion of overdue debts by franchisees as arising from rates and water closet charges levied by council," reads the council report.

In the ensuing debate the city's health service director, Dr Zanele Hwalima noted that reducing water closets to five per beer outlet and two refuse bins each was going to go a long way in effectively reducing these rates noting that patronage frequenting the beer outlets had decreased significantly.

Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube, however, noted that beer halls should be in actual fact reduced drastically noting that they also service the community in terms of housing social gatherings (burial society meetings and club meetings) and also provide benches that are used by the community during bereavements.

"Please be advised that when beer halls were designed and established, it was before deregulation (abolishment of monopoly) under the assumption that the communities would use beer halls as social centres. However, after the abolishment of the monopoly in the liquor industry there were many other players that came in.

"It should be also be noted that there has been some changes in the consumer behaviour hence less patronage for the beer halls. It is this department's considered view that the rates be not only reduced for the 12 months but be reduced in total and they be reviewed once the policies have been changed to introduce other productive activities," said Eng Dube.

Source - sundaynews