BY stephen chadenga

GWERU City Council (GCC) is owed over $4 million in unpaid bills by peri-urban settlements captured in the local authority’s master plan, but within the jurisdiction of Vungu Rural District Council (Vungu RDC), a recent forensic audit carried by external auditors has shown.

The audit, which is yet to be made public, shows that the city was working on modalities of co-operation with Vungu RDC to recover the money.

“Peri-urban settlements owed Gweru City Council $4 098 972,48 in respect of water and services fees, which the co-operation (between Gweru Council and Vungu RDC) should manage sustainably,” read part of the report.

“GCC and Vungu RDC were at an advanced stage (of finalising) the agreement of co-operation on peri-urban housing development schemes for land within Vungu RDC, bordering GCC which are within GCC’s master plan.”

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Early this year, Gweru indicated that the rapid expansion of peri-urban settlements was heavily impacting on provision of water and sewer services.

Mayor, Josiah Makombe said the mushrooming peri-urban settlements were putting pressure mainly on water and sewer infrastructure and attributed this to the absence of an operational master plan.

He noted that there was need for council to come up with a long-term plan to address the expansion and growth of the city, given the growing population and infrastructure capacity.

Makombe, however, indicated that in future the local authority should ensure that the development of new residential stands should fit well into the council’s master plan.