MORE than 600 vendors are set to be displaced as a deal between a South African company and the Bulawayo City Council is back on track after more than a year of haggling.
The council plans to develop Basch Street terminus, popularly known as Egodini, into a regional transport hub and shopping mall which will lead to displacement of the informal traders.
As haggling between the city council and Terraccota (Pvt) Ltd continued, the traders had a reprieve and continued flogging their wares, but this is set to come to an end and an uncertain future beckons.
To break the deadlock, the council agreed to pay compensation to tenants instead of that being the prerogative of Terraccota.
The local authority feels its negotiating team had made necessary concessions and Terraccota Trading (Pvt) Ltd should be in position to sign the agreement so construction at the site can commence.
Under the new arrangement, the project will not be retendered.
According to council’s latest report, the local authority said the project was an urgent one and resolved “that relevant council officials be authorised to renegotiate with Terraccota Trading (Pvt) Ltd on the redevelopment of Basch Street terminus (Egodini) on terms and conditions shown in the report, and on the understanding that the project would not be retendered, in view of the urgency of this matter.”
Councillors had late last year raised a red flag warning that the project risked being another pipedream and residents would judge the council harshly due to delays in implementing it.
The local authority plans to convert the site into a regional transport hub and shopping complex and awarded a tender to South African firm last year.
The compensation of tenants was seen as a sticking issue, with the city valuer estimating that $102 253 would be needed.
In relaying the resolution to Terraccotta, the council said: “Note that if you are in agreement . . . please include in the draft agreement so that we arrange for the dates of signing to pave way for the project to take off.
“Should there be issues that you need clarification on, let’s engage each other to conclude the matter.
The local authority added: “In our last telephone conversation, you had indicated that the clause on compensation be worded to the tune that the obligation of payment of compensation lies with the council and the financing of the obligation lies with Terracotta.
“The development period extension from the previous can be applied for, as the issues and reality unfolds.”
According to the council, under the initial agreement, the developer had agreed to compensate tenants.
It was agreed that Terraccota would bring their own valuers who would work with council’s valuation section and come up with compensation amounts.
But that changed and Terraccota is insisting on council footing the compensation bill for affected tenants and development which the council was not in agreement with.
The latest report indicates that the “development period remains 18 months subject to the issues and challenges that might arise during the project implementation and you can apply for no more than 30 months’ extension.
“The extension will be considered on its merit once the project has commenced.”
On the development conditions, the council will not allow the change of scope, though phasing is a natural phenomenon.
“It should be emphasised that let’s stick to the project issues and issues outside the control of the two parties. What I mean is that let’s negotiate from the same table,” the local authority said.