Sunday, January 26, 2020

Government Injects $23m Into New City
26 JAN, 2020 - 00:01
Tanyaradzwa Rusike and Lincoln Towindo
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Government will spend over $23 million this year to lay the foundations for the development of a new city around Mt Hampden, with preliminary work that includes drawing the masterplan having already begun.

The ministries of National Housing and Social Amenities, and Local Government and Public Works are the lead agents through which the preliminary work will be undertaken.

A concept plan for the planned city, which will lie on over 18 000 hectares of land between Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces, has already been drawn up with the help of experts from the University of Zimbabwe.

Last year, Cabinet approved the city’s concept document, which enabled Treasury to appropriate $23 million for developing a masterplan and conducting feasibility studies.

The new Parliament Building currently under construction in Mt Hampden is the nucleus around which the city will be developed.

Acting director of spatial planning and development in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Honesty Magaya, said the approval of the concept plan paves way for pre-development work to commence.

“The preliminary concept plan has been prepared and approved,” said Mr Magaya.

“More comprehensive planning work was initiated in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe.

“That partnership is so that we effectively kick-off.

“There is also some funding from the 2020 Budget,” he said.

After the development of the masterplan, the project will move to the next phase which involves layout planning, he added.

“After all these stages, we will then zero in on the issue of selling commercial stands.

“The intention is that there will be a separate local authority which will be managing the city.”

According to the 2020 Zimbabwe Infrastructure Investment Programme, $13 million has been reserved for developing a masterplan, while $10 million will be used for feasibility studies and other primary works.

Policymakers believe that establishing a new city will help decongest the capital — Harare — whose population has exponentially risen from an estimated 616 000 in 1980 to the current 2,2 million.

Mt Hampden will be modelled as a smart city, with emphasis on information and communications technology.

“The concept of the smart city will be adopted, anchored around information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency and improve the quality of Government services and citizen welfare.

“Government will fund preparations of the masterplan and feasibility studies during 2020.

“This should guide investments in the offsite infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer reticulation and lighting,” reads part of the Infrastructure Development Programme.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo could not be drawn into commenting about the development of the new city, preferring to focus on progress on the new Parliament.

“By the end of the year, we should be finishing the superstructure up to the sixth floor.

“Now the contractors are working internally; that is, they are building offices and the National of Assembly.”

His National Housing counterpart, Minister Daniel Garwe, said he was unable to comment.

Urban planning expert, Dr Percy Toriro, said the rapid urbanisation in Harare had made it necessary to move to Mt Hampden.

“The decision to build a satellite city in Mt Hampden, which is being built around the new Parliament of Zimbabwe building, should be viewed as a positive development,” said Dr Toriro.

“By comparison, it should be viewed like similar developments such as Sandton City in South Africa.

“It will move some government buildings, but will also introduce new uses such as high-tech enterprises, high-value corporate offices and specialist academic institutions. It is, therefore, being conceptualised as a modern smart city,” he said.

Development of a new smart city, he added, would mark “a break from the problems” affecting Harare.

“So roads will be better planned to avoid congestion.”

Touted as the new seat of Government, the new city will accommodate Government ministries, Parliament, residential areas, shopping malls, hotels and industries.

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