By Jermaine Ndlovu
Bulawayo, May 23, 2016 – CITY residents are up in arms with authorities at City Hall for allegedly allowing oil dealer, Trek Petroleum to build another service station on a piece of land that has been denied to its competitors.
City dwellers, led by their residents association, have demanded a probe on how the council granted a tender to the rich company without going through formal tender processes.
This came at the expense of Tshaka Pre-school in Makokoba which is now being made to abandon the site for another one near St Columbus secondary school, a short distance from its current site.
Bus operator, Ajay Properties has twice placed a bid for the site since 2011 but was denied the tender.
Tshaka pre-school is located close to the popular Renkini long distance bus terminus which is a walking distance from the CBD.
The site is favoured for a lucrative fuel business and garage as it is located along the busy Luveve road, which links the city centre and most high density suburbs.
The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) coordinator, Rodreck Fayayo said the city fathers should be investigated and also explain how they came to granting Trek Petroleum the go ahead to relocate the pre-school.
“Our mandate is to foster transparency and accountability in local governance, and we want clarity on how this was granted,” Fayayo said.
“We have analysed council meeting minutes dated March 2, which reveal that the majority of the councillors agreed to award the tender to Trek Petroleum in March. However several issues surround the awarding of the tender are not clear.
“Something is fishy about this deal; it is clear that there were under hand dealings, someone was bribed to offer that tender.
“Trek Petroleum were award the tender without going through what Ajay Properties went through, the tender was handed over to them.
“We have since wrote a letter addressed to the City council, so that they clarify on what basis was the client granted the tender, were the necessary and appropriate tender procedures followed, on what basis was Ajay Motorways denied the tender in 2011 and what has changed about the circumstances and we also request to see the minutes to attest to that.”
When Radio VOP contacted the office of the town clerk, they said they had responded to BPRA’s letter.
“We responded to their letter, and we can’t disclose the contents of our response to the press. We cannot talk to the press for now, the matter is between us and the association (BPRA),” an assistant to the Town Clerk said.
Fayayo said BPRA was still waiting for a response from the city fathers.
“We wait upon the councils response to the letter we sent in March, we cannot do anything for now, their response shapes our way forward, hopefully it will be a favourable response that will ensure that we do our duty of ensuring transparency and accountability.
“Unfortunately, we have not received any response though they said they responded.”
Meanwhile, a Tshaka Preschools official, one Mrs Chikomo professed ignorance about the planned relocation of the crèche.
“I don’t want to talk to the media about this issue. I don’t even know what’s going on, I don’t know this BPRA nor Trek Petroleum and the city council has never communicated with us.
“This issue has disturbed our business, some parents have transferred their children to other schools with the impression that our school was moving.”
The MDC-T dominated Bulawayo city council, once said to be the most open among the country’s increasingly corrupt authorities, has in recent years been accused of graft.
Last year, there were public outcry after city deputy mayor, Councillor Gift Banda had acquired 3,5 hectares of land for the construction of town houses from a part of Ascot Racecourse with claims that the land was bought for less than its actual value.