Residents Voices – Issue 73

Pumula, Hyde Park Residents to Petition BCC

RESIDENTS of Pumula, Robert Sinyoka, St Peters and Methodist communities in Bulawayo have decided to petition the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) following the insistence by the local authority that it will resettle squatters from Killarney in their area.

The residents are rejecting the resettlement on the grounds that they have been requesting to be allocated stands on the same piece of land since 1998. They are also concerned that the squatters to be resettled in their area could be social outcasts who will increase crime in their area.

Already, the petitions have been drafted and are being circulated in Pumula, Robert Sinyoka, Methodist and St Peters communities where signatures are being appended. The project, which is meant to resettle 197 people is being implemented by BCC in conjunction with the International Organisation of Migration.

Residents rejected the project when they were first informed about it in February this year. Despite the rejection, the local authority remains adamant that it will continue with the resettlement. It emerged at the meeting that the project was accepted at a full council meeting in 2011 without consultation of residents.

BCC Attaching Residents’ Properties

IT has emerged that the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is seizing property from residents with outstanding bills despite assurances by the Mayor last year that this was not a council policy. A resident in Tshabalala Suburb in the city told Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) that the local authority had seized his Kelvinator four plate stove and his Defy deep freezer over a debt of US$371.

While acknowledging that it is their duty to pay rates, residents see the seizing of property as uncalled for, and as a sign that BCC is detached from the environment that it is operating in. Residents said it was imperative for the city council to realise that most residents are either unemployed or earning salaries that are below the poverty datum line hence they are unable to pay rates. There are also concerns that the property that was seized was not equivalent to the amount that the resident owed.

Town Dwellers Facing Billing Problems

RESIDENTS residing in town flats in Bulawayo have revealed that water bills at some town flats in the city were astronomical as the flats were classed as commercial properties when they are in fact residential properties. The residents also accused estate agents of not paying their water bills despite the fact that the tenants pay their rent every month, leading to some flats constantly having their water supplies disconnected.

Residents from a certain flat which only has 24 units revealed that at one point they had a water bill amounting to $8 000 which did not make sense to them. They said due to the high bills, estate agents who manage the flats were reluctant to pay, leading to the local authority disconnecting residents. The residents called on the city council to classify all residential flats as residential properties and to install individual meters in all apartments in flats.

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