Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
VICTORIA Falls Municipality (VFM) has proposed a $354 million 2020 budget to mainly tackle water and sanitation problems as well as fix the road network among other capital projects.
The budget which was submitted to Government and is awaiting approval, is an 800 percent increase from last year’s $22 million budget.
Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube said the budget had taken into consideration the prevailing economic challenges.
He said the local authority is also getting interest for partnerships from the local business community for some projects.
“We have submitted our budget but it is yet to be approved by Government. The total budget for 2020 is $354 million which is aggregated to various projects and we are targeting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) where we hope to improve water provision,” said Mr Dube.
He said the local authority had also committed $2,5 million it received from the Government’s devolution funds to improving the pumping system under the WASH programme that started about three years ago.
The resort town has perennial water challenges owing to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) lack of capacity to pump from the Zambezi River. The municipal management had hoped for a handover of water management from Zinwa, which is responsible for pumping raw water to the council to improve the situation but that has not happened two years after lodging an application with the Government.
“It’s like we are starting afresh the WASH programme. We got $2,5 million from the devolution funds which we committed to improving pumping. Obviously the situation will improve but that doesn’t take away Zinwa problems. The Ministry of Local Government once wrote that they were coming to officially hand over water administration to the local authority from Zinwa but that hasn’t happened and we can only anticipate that they will come soon,” said Mr Dube.
Council has since ordered and paid for more than 60 tonnes of aluminium sulphate which is on its way from South Africa for water treatment to last to about June this year.
Mr Dube said the municipality hopes to focus on road maintenance as a build-up from last year when they retooled their workshops by buying different kinds of equipment and materials.
He said the increased capacity means they will fix all roads this year.
He said the municipality expects to get approval for 900 high and medium density housing stands in the first quarter so that servicing and allocation to home seekers can be done during the course of the year.
The council will during this quarter also install its first ever traffic lights at the corner of Reynard Road and Livingstone Way in a partnership with a local hotel. Mr Dube said payment for the full set has been made and installation will be done anytime. He said the local authority strives to provide service commensurate with the resort town standards.
“We are already effecting some increments on some charges such as shop licensing which do not need to wait for budget. For us to be able to continue providing Victoria Falls standard service delivery, people have to pay their dues because we don’t want to be forced to abandon some services. “We have a lot of interest from the business community for partnerships and we attribute this to our public relations stance towards business,” highlighted Mr Dube. – @ncubeleon