By Idries Chaibhu
In recent years, the city of Bulawayo has experienced a rapid increase in its population, leading to a surge in the number of cars on its roads exacerbated by the failure of the City’s terminus tender. As a result, finding parking in the city has become a major challenge for both residents and visitors alike. The Bulawayo City Council recognized this problem and sought to address it by entering into a public-private partnership (PPP) with Trendy Three International, a company that promised to revolutionize the way the council managed its parking resources and interacted with its residents.
Under the terms of the agreement, Trendy Three would provide the technology, enforcement and equipment needed to create a new parking system throughout the city, while the council would provide road refurbishment and share in the profits. The partnership was structured as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal, with Trendy Three operating the system for a set period before transferring ownership to the council.
At first, everything seemed to be going smoothly and residents where at a crossroads on whether to be happy or not. The council was excited about the potential of the new system and Trendy Three was confident that their technology would be a game-changer. The company began installing new parking bays throughout the city, complete with state-of-the-art equipment that allowed drivers to pay for their parking easily.
However, as time went on, cracks began to appear in the partnership. Residents started to complain about the high cost of parking (a common challenge in public private partnerships), and many found it difficult to navigate the new system. Meanwhile, rumours began to circulate that there were problems with the equipment being used to monitor the parking bays.
These concerns came to a head during an all-stakeholders meeting held at Cresta Churchill hotel on the 21st of July 2023. During the meeting, it was revealed that about 2500 units of technological gadgets installed had become obsolete. This meant that financial impropriety had been committed and it reflected negatively on the project’s objective of domestic resource mobilization to supply the drying coffers of the local authority.
In the aftermath of this debacle, questions began to arise about the council’s decision-making process. Had they done enough research before signing on with Trendy Three? Were they too quick to dismiss the concerns of residents?
The lesson was clear: when it comes to public service, the needs of the people must always come first. No amount of fancy software or flashy marketing can make up for that. The city of Bulawayo must learn from this experience and ensure that all future partnerships are thoroughly vetted and evaluated before any agreements are signed.
Furthermore, the council must work to rebuild trust.
In conclusion, the partnership between Bulawayo City Council and Trendy Three International was a costly mistake that serves as a cautionary tale for all public institutions. The needs of the people must always come first, and any decisions made that affect them should be made after thorough consultations with them and be thoroughly researched and evaluated. The council must work to rebuild the trust of its residents and ensure that similar mistakes are not made in the future. Only then can Bulawayo truly continue on its path towards progress and innovation.