The sprawling suburb of Cowdray Park, one of the fastest growing in Bulawayo, could turn into a health time bomb because the government has been dishing out stands under Operation Hlalani Kuhle without providing supporting services such as sewers and water.
The Bulawayo City Council says the existing sewerage ponds in the area are almost at full capacity. They need to be duplicated to cater for the additional 8 000 stands that have been allocated under the fast-track housing project in the area.
Though the council has objected to the way the scheme is being implemented it has fast-tracked the approval of applications and building plans of those allocated stands by the government.
The council normally services an area before building houses but the government has done it the other way round in Cowdray Park. This has put the council in a fix as it is the one that has to issue certificates of occupation. It has said it cannot issue such certificates unless the houses are provided with water and toilets.
Executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube said government authorities had been made aware right from the onset of Hlalani Kuhle that there was a need for offsite services in Cowdray Park.
He said this concern had, however, been largely ignored by the authorities in the rush to see the programme take off the ground.
There was a real danger that the council might be called upon to provide these services. The cash-strapped council is now owed $486 billion by its ratepayers including government departments which owed $146.4 billion at the end of October.
Former deputy mayor Clr Angilacala Ndlovu said there was need to keep sensitising the government about the need to provide this infrastructure because of the health implications of lack of these basic services.
Beneficiaries have formed an association, the Bulawayo Homeseekers Consortium, to mobilise resources to service the stands.
The chairman of the consortium Sifiso Ndlovu said they intended to raise $2.4 billion a month for the servicing of the stands. He said his association had 66 companies whose employees were allocated stands.
Zimbabwe has already been rocked by outbreaks of cholera with Mbare Musika in the capital at one stage being closed for several days to contain the disease.