The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has handed over to the public two swimming pools in Luveve and Mpopoma for recreational leisure.
The pools were shut down in 2003 after the council had handed over the administration of the baths to swimming associations in 2001 but the associates failed to operate the pools, as they lacked qualified workers to them.
This was worsened by claims of misappropriation of funds prompting the city fathers to reclaim the baths back in 2005.
In 2018, council through the ward retention scheme managed to rehabilitate the two swimming pools for almost RTGS$100 000, after residents from the two areas identified them as key priority projects.
Speaking at the handover of the swimming pools, Tuesday at Mpopoma, Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni, said the city was the only one the southern region with an international Olympic standard swimming bath.
“All the council departments had to work towards these projects. This has culminated in the commissioning of the two swimming pools today. We believe that swimming due to its popularity and unifying element can be used to do good in our communities,” he noted.
The mayor said Mpopoma pool was established in 1965 while the Luveve pool followed in 1969.
“In 2000 the council came up with a resolution to handover to the communities and we handed over to the swimming associations on December 31, 2001 until March 2003 but the associates failed to continue operating the pools.
“Due to financial constraints the pools did not generate enough funds which could not sustain their operations. There were misappropriations of funds by members of the associations and sadly they were under qualified personnel that were employed,” he highlighted.
In 2005, the city council took over the management of pools but unfortunately the pools could not be opened due to lack of funding, said Mguni.
But in 2018, funds for the rehabilitation were sourced through the three percent ward retention scheme.
“The purpose of the fund is to encourage residents to pay for services through retaining three percent of cash collected from the ward. These funds are then channeled directly to the ward to finance projects chosen by the ward. The development in the wards motivate ratepayers to pay their bills in anticipation of more development.
“As such ward 9 and 15 chose resuscitating the pools we are gathered here to witness their commissioning. I appeal to the residents in these wards to continue to put aside more funds from their ward retention scheme so as to improve recreational facilities,” he said.
For the construction, council put the pools to tender and ZIMWAL Mermaid Private Company won the bid to refurbish the two pools at a cost of RTGS$56 007.70 for Mpopoma and RTGS $42 730.05 for Luveve.
“The refurbishment started on February 20, 2018 and ended on July 2, 2018. On September 19, 2018 the contractor handed over the pools to the council and on October 1, 2108 the pools opened their doors to the public since their closure in 2003,” said the Bulawayo mayor.
“Your patience for this service by council is greatly appreciated. It is therefore with great pride that these facilities are being handed over to the general public. It is my hope that through the Director of Housing and Community Services, this facility will be kept well all the time. If funds permit council will build more pools in the other areas of the city.”
He added that he was proud to say Bulawayo looks after its citizens and such projects demonstrated that the city belonged to the residents.
During the commissioning event, the council led residents to a tour of the two swimming pools and the Zimbabwe Life Saving Society, Matabeleland Chapter gave demonstrations of how to save someone in the event of a drowning incident or other eventualities that may arise.
The events was also attended by teachers and learners from surrounding schools, resident associations, junior leadership -in form of child parliamentarians, councillors and its minister of state.