THE Mutare City Council is struggling to access the $1, 7 million it applied for street lights and robot maintenance from the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe, two years after its approval.
The Town Clerk, Mr Obert Muzawazi, confirmed the development and said they were equally puzzled with the delay, which has put so many lives of people at risk especially in the city centre where only a single robot is working.
"We applied for $1, 7 million from IDBZ in 2010 for street lights and robot maintenance, but up to now the money is still to be disbursed. This is despite an approval by the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo.
“We have made numerous follow-ups, but nothing has materialised as we are always referred from one office to the other.
"What we understand is that only the Ministry of Finance is left to play its role in disbursing the money, but nothing is forthcoming. We are now worried that many people's lives are now at risk because of the bureaucracy we are encountering in having the money released," he said.
Out of the six robots in the city centre, only one is working and many accidents are being recorded at the busy Herbert Chitepo and Robert Mugabe intersection especially during peak hours in the morning.
Mr Muzawazi said they had also earmarked part of the money for street lights especially those in high-density suburbs.
"Cases of house breaking and theft as well as muggings are on the increase in the city because of darkness and it would have been a different scenario had the money been disbursed on time.
“We will continue pushing until we get the light at the end of the tunnel and residents should bear with us," he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Finance were fruitless at the time of going to Press, as this reporter was referred from one office to the other without any joy.
However, Mr Alex Machimbirike from the IDBZ Bank, confirmed the Mutare City Council's application, but could not give more details citing the bank-client relationship.
"There is a bank-client relationship between the bank and City of Mutare, but the specific nature thereof cannot be divulged due to the bank - client confidentiality. In this regard, we kindly request that your questions be redirected to the City of Mutare which can speak more authoritatively on the subject," he said.
When asked on the timeframe of loans disbursements, Mr Machimbirike, said: "When a loan is approved, there are conditions precedent that have to be fulfilled before funds are disbursed.
“Once all the conditions have been met then the funds would be released according to the agreed work schedule.
“It therefore varies from client to client as to the time it takes for the first disbursement to be effected after the loan approval."