18 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Construction Industry Pension Fund Scouts for U.S.$14 Million

THE Construction Industry Pension Fund (CIPF) is scouting for investors to inject US$14 million into the Norton Shopping Mall whose construction stalled over a decade ago.

CIPF's chief executive officer, Elisha Ngunga, said construction will resume once they have secured the funding.

Once it has been completed, the mall will generate rental income for the fund, which can be channelled towards other projects.

Construction of the mall started in 2002, but was suspended immediately due to lack of funding.

Ngunga said construction would now be undertaken in phases once the funding has been secured, with the first phase involving the erection of a service station and food courts.

"US$14 million is required to start up the project," he said. "The fund is therefore looking at going into the project with partners".

Ngunga also revealed that their dispute with a contractor for the Norton mall had been resolved.

CIPF had been embroiled in a protracted legal battle with the contractor after terminating the company's contract.

But an arbitral ruling has since been made in favour of CIPF, which was awarded US$253 000.

The Norton mall is part of several projects CIPF had planned to embark on in the early 2000s.

But due to hyperinflation, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to have reached a record 500 billion percent at the end of 2008, the projects had to be shelved.

Among the Fund's projects is the Stoneridge housing scheme in Harare, which has been fully subscribed for.

Under the project, those whose contributions to the Fund are up-to-date will be allocated housing stands. CIPF is also assisting members with accessing mortgages.

The property market has been going through a myriad of challenges stemming from the harsh economic environment.

Symptomatic of the challenges is the failure by tenants to pay for their rentals for both domestic and commercial properties.

Commercial property occupancy rates have slid to less than 50 percent due to company closures.

Thousands of people condemned onto the streets due to company closures have also been exiting rented properties to go into informal settlements dotted across cities and towns where rentals are much lower.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe BuiBy Staff Reporterlding Contractors Association (ZBCA) has been engaged by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to invite its members to construct 100 blocks of flats for civil servants in Mabvuku and Dzivarasekwa suburbs in Harare.

"We have been given details about the 100 blocks of flats. They (government) don't have money so we have set down with investors who have agreed to bring in capital," said ZBCA vice president, Gerald Chipumha.

Zimbabwe

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