I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year. The City of Bulawayo enters this new decade under the banner of a new vision which is “City of Kings, a leading smart and transformative city by 2024”.

This is in recognition that the growth and development of Bulawayo resides in innovative, smart technologies and systems that will transform Bulawayo to a modern industrialised city by 2024.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we reflect on the previous year, we recognise that the general operating environment persisting in the country presented numerous challenges and obstacles to the optimal implementation of municipal services. Most challenges were not unique to the City of Bulawayo and are prescribed by the general macroeconomic environment. Unique solutions continue to be explored by the City in order for service delivery to be sustained.

Implementation of capital projects as well as maintenance of council infrastructure was affected by the unstable economic environment and pricing regimes. Other persistent challenges affecting service delivery effectiveness included inadequate manpower, limited and obsolete plant, equipment and vehicles, erratic fuel and electricity supply and water shortages due to climate change induced drought.

The change in the macro-economic environment negatively impacted on the completion of various projects. One of the projects affected was the Basch Street Terminus (Egodini Mall) and Phase 1 of the project is now anticipated to be completed either at the end of the first quarter or beginning of the second quarter of 2020. The prevailing inflationary environment and increase in interest rates further affected the completion of the transportation hub. Despite the highlighted challenges, there was progress in the project with 90 direct employment opportunities to local residents. The year 2019 also saw the implementation of a mass transportation system in the city of Bulawayo with the introduction of Zupco buses carrying passengers at subsided rates and this is part of the national government programme which the city of Bulawayo is supporting by providing pick up and drop off points.

In 2019 the City of Bulawayo celebrated its 125th Anniversary, marking over a century of service provision. The City is grateful to the various stakeholders who continue to support council in its endeavor to become a smart and transformative city by 2024.

I extend my appreciation to Aldermen, Councillors, the Town Clerk, Mr C. Dube and the heads of departments and staff of the City of Bulawayo for their dedication towards the city. Residents and stakeholders continued to support us by paying their bills on time despite the economic challenges.

Due to the El nino and El nina effects and climate change, water supply challenges are currently being faced by the residents of Bulawayo. We remain hopeful for bountiful rains that will ensure that we provide adequate water supplies to the residents. Our total dam percentage as at Wednesday, 8 January 2020 is 35.40%. We would like to advise residents that we intend on maintaining the current water shedding schedule and not worsen it should we fail to get adequate inflows into the city’s dams in 2020. May I encourage the residents to continue saving water and using our limited water resources sparingly. Council continues to explore other innovative systems to ensure that we attend to the water supply challenges. We anticipate the completion of the Epping Forest Project in the new year which is expected to bring in at least 10 mega litres of water.

In 2020, we are looking forward to the finalisation of the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Projects (BWSSIP) which will see the upgrading and renewal of water pipes in the city’s wards as well as replacement of 18,000 nonfunctional water meters in the Magwegwe and Criterion reservoir zones. We also anticipate the reduction of sewer faults through the rehabilitation of the Southern Areas Sewer Treatment (SAST) plant as well as the attendance to hotspots and rehabilitation of sewer outfalls in the SAST catchment and in Cowdray Park with particular focus to Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle area. May I encourage the residents of the city of Bulawayo to desist from vandalizing the sewer network as vandalism continues to affect the residents and cause environmental pollution.

In 2019, the city faced numerous challenges with pump breakdowns due to old age and power surges thereby affecting water supply. In our bid to provide quality services, we will be installing new electromechanical equipment at Ncema and Fernhill pump stations which will enable the installation of new pumps for the raw water supply line at both stations. The new pumps will ensure reliability in the water supply system, improve efficiency and will utilise the Scada Technology that allows for remote management of the systems. We will also attend to the protection of the equipment through installation of new circuit breakers that will safeguard the equipment against power surges.

Ladies and gentlemen, the city has a total road network of 2 389km with 70 percent of its total network in poor condition and requiring urgent rehabilitation works (that is, reconstruction and overlays). Lack of funding has affected the current state of the road network and approximately US$700 million is required to bring the network to good condition. Current funding levels are way below this figure.

Despite the challenges of erratic fuel supply, limited road repair materials coupled with constant plant and equipment breakdowns, council made progress in rehabilitating roads. In 2019, 2.3 km of roads were constructed covering Murchison Road. A total of 5.5km of completed sections is awaiting surfacing. Resealing was affected by budgetary constraints while 8.4 km of overlays were done on Fort St, Robert Mugabe Way, Matopos Road, Jason Moyo Street, Samuel Parirenyatwa Street and 8th Avenue. Re-gravelling of 5.4 km was done in wards 10, 11, 12, 17, 27 and 29. The city, in partnership with the community conducted 16.3 km of drain cleaning, 20.3 km of median cleaning and 5 032 square meters of pothole patching while 26 km of road marking was outsourced to private contractors.

It is our hope that we will be able to meet the funding requirements necessary to bring our road network to a good condition. We will continue to use funds disbursed by the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration to attend to the city’s road infrastructure in 2020 and beyond.

Most of the projects to service presale stands in various areas have been put on hold due to increased costs of outstanding works. Servicing of Highmount and Selbourne Park stands is ongoing. Areas being serviced also include the following:

  • Emganwini & Tshabalala high density stands – water &sewer complete, surfacing outstanding.
  • Woodville, low density stands – roads 44%, water 77% complete
  • Emhlangeni Phase II, medium density stands – sewer 0%, water 25%, roads 2.5% complete
  • Highmount, low density stands – sewer 99%, water 97%, roads 75% complete.
  • Magwegwe West stands – sewer 70%, water 100%, and roads 30% complete.
  • 77 stands Selbourne Park – sewer 5%, water 10% and roads 55% complete.

In 2019 a total of 227 stands were allocated. The following stands which have been identified for future allocations include 670 stands in Mahatshula Extension, 787 in Killarney Extension, 3500 in Umganin and 2020 at the Norwood Tracks. The city wishes to attend to these outstanding projects in 2020 and hand over the stands to the beneficiaries.

To achieve all the planned projects for the City of Kings in 2020, we need to work together with our residents and stakeholders in ensuring that we all timeously pay our bills and improve on revenue efficiency in accordance with the 2020 budget. The year 2020 total budget is estimated at $2.7 billion and is made up of the Revenue Budget of $1.3 billion and the Capital Budget of $ 1.4 billion. The budget was resubmitted to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works on the 3rd of December 2019 and is currently awaiting approval.

It is anticipated that council will pursue its quest for continuous improvement in service delivery, exploring as many initiatives, partnerships and collaborations as possible, relevant to its strategic plans, in order to realize a “Leading, Smart Transformative City” status for Bulawayo through adequate and quality service delivery.

Council is focused on improving e goverance in a bid to improve communication with its stakeholders and residents. We have been working on updating our website to ensure that it is responsive and interactive and can be accessed with ease.

Consumers will now be able to easily register online and view their accounts and balances and make online bill payments.  As we improve on e-governance, residents should be able to submit their meter readings and view webmaps before the end of 2020. Using geographic information systems (GIS) technology, council has focused on production of map layouts on aerial imagery with more developments expected in 2020 through the use of drone technology.

The optimistic targets for 2020 include the possible construction of a library, construction of a new school, rehabilitation of community halls, the upgrading of Barbourfields Stadium, the allocation of 3000 housing stands, the resuscitation of the central park and improved curriculum and enrolment in capacity building courses at council facilities. Staffing levels have been a challenge in the past year, however with the approval from the ministry of local government and public works, 368 critical positions will be filled which will go a long way in improving service delivery.

While the year 2019 has had its achievements and challenges, the city of Bulawayo looks forward to a very exciting and optimistic new decade.

My appeal to the people of Bulawayo is to gear themselves for new opportunities that will be availed as we consolidate and make further inroads in the implementation of our strategic vision and Vision 2030. The economic and social transformation agenda requires all stakeholders to actively participate in the development of the nation. Bulawayo City Council invites the residents, commerce, industry and all stakeholders to pay for municipal services and help rebuild bulawayo.

May 2020 bring you all, good health, success, love, and peace.

I thank you.

Siyabonga.

Councillor Solomon Mguni