By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, May 06, 2016 – THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has blamed the government for failing to gazette new cemeteries leading to the country’s second largest city running out of burial space.
According to a report contained in the latest council minutes, councillors noted with concern that the city was fast running out of burial space and it was worrying that the gazetting of the new cemetery by the government was taking too long.
The Health, Housing and Education Committee chairperson Thabitha Ngwenya told the full council meeting that they applied to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to gazette the new cemeteries in Marvel and Pumula South years back to no avail.
“However, there had been no response over the years despite follow ups. Things seemed to be at stand still at the moment pending budget approval by the Minister of Local Government and National Housing,” she said.
The proposed new cemetery is near Pumula South and the land used to belong to Hawkflight Construction Company.
It has space measuring 52,7 hectares and is expected to accommodate between 107 350 and 114 270 graves after allowing for foot paths and driveways.
Another proposed cemetery is located at Marvel Township in an area lying between the Bulawayo-Harare Road and the Bulawayo-Harare Railway Line. The area measures about 25 hectares.
Councillor Mlandu Ncube also expressed great concern about the delays in gazetting, adding there was a need to put pressure on the relevant Government Ministries as this issue was now of great concern to the residents.
Councillor Thobani Ncube urged council to also consider other options of disposal, such as cremation and double or even treble interment.
Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo confirmed that provision was already there for second interment and the service could be accessed from the Health Services Department.
The report also noted that BCC has restricted burial at West Park Cemetery to 10 per day as the local authority battles the critical shortage of burial space in the city.
So dire is the situation that burial space at the cemetery might not last a month hence the decision to limit daily burials to 10.
West Park is currently taking 75% of the city’s burials.
Bulawayo has seven cemetery sites which include Old Luveve, Luveve Extension, Luveve 3, Hyde Park, West Park, Lady Stanley and Athlone Avenue.
“It would be recalled that over the past few years, the Department of Health Services had reported that due to its central location and accessibility, West Park Cemetery had been taking up most of the city’s burials (around 75 percent). The department had now reached a point where the space left for burial was so restricted that we cannot produce the usual quota of graves.
“At the current rate of burial, the remaining space might not last more than a month. As a result only a limited number of burials could take place on any given day. The department had now been advising mourners that up to 10 burials could be done conveniently at the cemetery per day, the rest of the burials are being referred to Luveve,” reads part of the report.
The local authority, however, revealed that those individuals who had reserved burial space will not be affected by the new position.
“Only those communities who had reserved burial space in advance (individuals, the Zimbabwe National Army, the Anglican Church and Guta Ramwari) would not be affected for some time,” reads the report.
Of late the council has been encouraging people to cremate their beloved ones, saying burial space at the cemeteries was fast running out.
However, the local authority has claimed there is a low response from blacks to switch over to cremations, with only 12 cremations having been recorded in February this year.
Efforts to get a comment from Local Government and National Housing minister Saviour Kasukuwere were fruitless as his phone went unanswered.
He did not respond also to a text sent to his phone.