The city of Mutare has received a major boost from financiers of the Sakubva Urban Renewal project, BancABC who are set to release the first tranche of US$1 million for the ambitious project in the coming days.
BancABC is conducting the final phases of its due diligence before the city can officially get a draw down from the US$8 million facility, targeted at constructing three blocks of flats in the initial phase of the project.
Mutare City Council and Plan Infrastructure Development (PID) are co-promoters on the project which was supposed to have kicked off at the end of March but stalled due to ongoing Covid-19 national lockdown.
While other projects with National Project Status have continued to be rolled out during the lockdown, the Sakubva Urban Renewal project implementers have been waiting for the financer to release funds.
PID architecture and infrastructure planner, Hillary Mukaratirwa, said there was a minor problem with the title deeds for the land, thus delaying financial closure on the bank's part.
He said as they wait for funding, they have engaged authorities on operational modalities including hiring of contract workers madding that said once the fund is exhausted financers will release more funds.
"We provided everything to the bank, but the committee discovered a minor problem with the land's title deeds. However, that has now been sorted.
"We are now waiting for the bank to finish off their paperwork so that we can get the US$1 million which will be used to construct three blocks of flats in the initial phase of the project. We expect to be on site by the last week of June," he said.
BancABC chief executive, Dr Lance Mambondiani says the bank is committed to financing the project despite the delays, affecting banks in the country, which delayed its commencement.
"We are committed to this project and we are on course to achieve what we set out to do.
"As what happens with financing for all projects of this nature, we experienced some setbacks during the Covid-19 national lockdown period. This was not restricted to BancABC only, but many banks were affected. But there is full commitment and once we finalize work being done, funds will be made available," he said.
The Sakubva project is part of a broader national Urban Renewal Project initiative aimed at modernizing local cities including Mutare's oldest and run-down suburb of Sakubva, in line with Government's Vision 2030.
Government has made a commitment to transform local cities under a Smart Zimbabwe blueprint which is expected to turn local urban areas into smart cities that use information communication technologies.
Under the project, council will construct high rise flats, revamping of Sakubva Flea Market, Sakubva Bus Terminus, Murahwa Green Market Home Industries and Sakubva Vegetable Market.
Mutare City Council has availed 225 hectares of land for the initiative.