...Councilor pleads for US$200 to complete project
By Delicious Mathuthu
A US$23 000 police base community project constructed at Woodlands Park suburb in Gweru is currently lying idle despite having a basic structure having been completed about a year ago.
The project was led by the Ward Development Committee (WDC) but police are yet to deploy officers to the base awaiting final touches and approval from top government officials, this publication has learnt.
The project was initiated in June 2019 by the Woodlands Park WDC chaired by one Mr Obert Rupanga who was central in sourcing funding and building materials.Volunteer builders from Mkoba and Woodlands Park suburbs assisted in the construction of the house after the WDC approached Vungu Rural District Council through the ward Councilor, Parirenyatwa Nyika.
In an interview, Rupanga said Woodlands has become a dangerous place with criminal elements wreaking havoc in the suburb, taking advantage of the absence of law enforcement agents hence consensus on the construction of a police ‘base’.
“We realised that people are being murdered and mugged and we approached Vungu Rural District Council who gave us a stand through our local Councilor for ward 16 to build the police post.
“People are being butchered by machete wielding criminals who target people carrying groceries and cash. The occurrences point some local criminals but we cannot pinpoint who they are exactly,” Rupanga said.
He says the building was completed last year but police are slow in deploying officers to the facility a resulting in the deployment of a caretaker to look after the place.
“We finished the building on the 27th of October last year (2020) and we used injected roughly US$23 000 in the construction.
“So far we have put someone to look after the place as we try to engage the Zimbabwe Republic Police who are yet to come out clear as to when they will deploy officers.
“The response we have received so far from the police is that they are also waiting for a response from higher offices in Harare for the police base to work.
“But as we speak, things are not good because people are being killed and robbed and we are asking the police to come.
“Labour for the project was provided by residents while I contributed to the construction of the slab and thereafter Chiwundura Member of Parliament, Honourable Livingston Chiminya finished it off through the Constituency Development Fund,” Rupanga said.
Midlands Police Spokesperson, Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko advised that they should use the proper channels and approach the right authorities who have the command that can lead to the opening of the base.
“Yes they did build the structure but they need to inform the proper authorities to ensure formalities are done so that officers can be deployed.
“I don’t see a problem if they approach the appropriate levels of authority because we really need officers stationed in most areas for security,” Inspector Mahoko said.
Ward 16 Councilor, Parirenyatwa Nyika said the building is not yet complete and is being stalled by water connection.
“We did approach the police but there are some things which are not yet complete; we don’t have water and so we agreed with the police that we cannot have officers without water at the place.
“The biggest challenge we have at the moment is that we don’t have funds to buy materials needed to connect water and we tried to talk to residents but none came forward to assist.
“Residents should know that this is the situation and we need funding from them to complete the project, of which some are now saying police are refusing to use the place yet it is not yet complete,” he said.
“If we get about USD$200, I think we would be able to complete the water connections. We cannot go back to the police before we have water and a functioning toilet.
“There are monies which also need to be paid to Council, for buying a meter and other things which still need to be done,” Councilor Nyika said.
He also said he was hospitalised recently after being attacked and robbed by thugs, saying security should be a priority.
“The station is very essential to Woodlands residents when it comes to security because we have too many crimes being committed in the ward because the police are far from the area,” he said.
Woodlands Park is one of the fastest growing new suburbs in the outskirts of Gweru City with more than 3 000 households who are currently relying on Gweru Central Police Station in the Central Business District and Nehanda Police Station in Mkoba for police services.