A NUMBER of grave diggers are likely to lose their jobs as the Bulawayo City Council forges ahead with plans to mechanise grave digging.
Grave diggers at the council cemeteries are currently using picks and shovels.
The development comes at a time when council is trying to find ways of reducing its employment costs, especially in overtime allowances.
Councillors have expressed concern over reports that the local authority is blowing nearly $1 million per month in overtime allowances.
The allowances have been soaring since December 2013 with councillors now suggesting that council cuts short its working week to save on overtime pay.
According to the latest report of the health, housing and education committee report, council has tendered for the supply of grave-digging mechanical equipment, which is likely to result in job cuts for some while others would be retained to maintain cemeteries.
“Councillor Gideon Mangena was concerned about grave production service.
“He felt that there was need to mechanise the operation as it was labour intensive,” the report reads.
“Councillor Siboniso Khumalo observed that mechanisation of grave digging would reduce employment opportunities and adversely affect disadvantaged residents in the city.
“In response the town clerk (Middleton Nyoni) advised that tenders for the supply of an authorised grave digger had been opened on 13th May 2014 and would be processed in the usual way.
“Enquiries would be made with (the) engineering services department for provision of a jack hammer to assist in grave production. . .”