By Moses Ziyambi
MASVINGO- Beleaguered City of Masvingo has resolved to borrow a massive US$1, 7 million to complete its stalled Mucheke Trunk Sewer in a move that is likely to invite the ire of the burdened ratepayer.
Recently, city managers were forced to eat humble pie after they had vehemently resisted directives from the local governance ministry ordering deep salary cuts to boost the city’s service delivery reserve.
In a notice published in the Sunday Mail on June 14, Town Clerk Adolf Gusha reveals that the trunk sewer project requires the massive capital injection to be completed.
“Masvingo City Council has resolved to apply to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing of Borrowing Powers in the sum of One Million seven hundred thousand dollars (US$1700000),” reads part of the notice.
It also goes on to say the money is needed for the trunk main sewer completion, trunk water main and the trunk road.
Latest council minutes on the same project also reveal that the trunk sewer is only 68 percent complete due to lack of funds.
Masvingo Residents Trust (MRT) Programmes Manager Prosper Tiringindi said his organisation opposes reckless borrowing that would further burden the ratepayers.
“Council should cut on their luxury expenditure like hotel allowances and endless benefits for their senior employees and channel the money to the project. We believe with a bit of austerity, this project can be completed without getting ourselves into debt,” said Tiringindi.
Anoziva Muguti, Chairperson of the Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) said he expected authorities to consult widely with residents.
“We believe they should consult the residents first and hear from them. They cannot just borrow on behalf of residents without our knowledge. We are against armchair decisions especially those that have financial implications,” said Mguti.
The project is lagging far behind schedule after its 2013 deadline lapsed due to several factors including failure by the pipe supplier to deliver on time and suspected contractual disputes.
Mayor Hubert Fidze has however maintained that the initial cost of the project was underestimated by the previous council board.