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Dienstag, 4.10.2022
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A smart city deep in a rural area looks unthinkable to some, yet alone if that place is in Chivi district, far away from other well established areas.

Those who think this is difficult to implement base their arguments on the fact that rural areas are already under developed with less services and amenities.

But what they forget is that the coming in of a smart city in such an area means that services and the necessary amenities will follow this splendid development and within a short time the story of the area will change.

This is exactly what is happening in Chivi where there are plans to turn an area at the intersection of the Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway and Chivi-Mhandamabwe Road into a smart city.

The area is known as Chibi Turn-off, but locals prefer to call it paMhukahuru, perhaps after one of the businesspeople who operates at the area.

If you visit the place today, you may struggle to imagine how the smart city will look like, but the reality is that the story of Chibi Turn-off changing.

With a few grocery shops and some bottle stores scattered at the business centre, the area looks too unassuming to be turned into a smart city.

But the New Dispensation led by President Mnangagwa has already proved that there is nothing impossible when it comes to instituting developmental programmes.

Who ever thought that the Harare-Beitbridge Highway can be turned upside down, with a completely new tarred road emerging on such a long distance?

Or who ever thought that one day Zimbabweans can stand proudly pointing to a modern border post and area at Beitbridge?

Very soon, Chibi Turn-off, with its modern smart city, will join other development projects as a good example of how a clear vision can turn what appears to be impossible into reality.

After Government gazetted the area as a smart city concept in 2020, there is no going back on this important development that will change the face of Chivi district and the surrounding areas.

The smart city is destined for success because of its strategic location and the excitement already generated by the other developments taking place in the district.

For a start, Chibi Turn-off is strategically located at the 45-kilometre peg from Masvingo City, and right on the Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway

It is 100 kilometres from the famous Tugwi-Mukosi Dam and 266 kilometres from Beitbridge Border Post.

The new smart city is expected to feed into the whole developmental plan around Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, where it will complement the tourism magnate by providing services like hotel accommodation.

When Tugwi-Mukosi Dam becomes full throttle in its operations, the Chibi Turn-off Smart City will be counted as one of the important areas offering support services to the dam.

In fact, developing a smart city at Chibi Turn-off will be an important approach to a new model for rural development where people who live there can also enjoy perfect services.

This approach is justified in that it bridges the gap between urban and rural areas, which had seen rural areas being marginalised and regarded as remote.

Once a smart city is established in a rural area, people can shorten distances they travel to get services such as banking and shopping in faraway towns.

The concept will cascade into digital and smart villages as surrounding areas reap the rewards of the modern facilities that service the smart city.

This will definitely boost the modernisation of rural areas, with Chivi villagers being the first to benefit from the concept.

The smart city concept at Chibi Turn-off will come with modern plans and new generation information infrastructure that will be backed by the provision of communication technologies.

With this smart city, Chivi is on the cusp of witnessing a rural digital economy that changes the way people approach development and its benefits.

Villagers around the new smart city will soon be talking of new terms like big data, artificial intelligence and online services.

This will spill to agricultural practices that will now be determined by the use of technologies.

According to Chivi Rural District Council chief executive Mr Tariro Matavire, plans for setting up the smart city at Chibi Turn-off are now advanced, with preliminary issues being attended to.

He was speaking in Chivi in an interview last week done for this column.

A layout plan for the smart city is already in place, and everyone is aware of the work that lies ahead since the plan is clear on what needs to be achieved.

“After it (the smart city) was gazetted and with the help of the department of physical planning, we managed to come up with the layout plan,” said Mr Matavire.

“Unfortunately, it took time before it was approved, but was finally approved this year in April. With that approval, the next stage is looking for investors to put the requisite infrastructure – that is tarred roads, sewerage system, water reticulation and electricity.

“When there are services, investors can now construct buildings so that people can start utilizing them. The idea we have is to have a residential section with 500 stands and our plan is that we use solar power for each house.”

The smart city will have a water supply system dedicated to it alone to ensure there are no disruptions in supplies.

“Water is provided by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, but we want to upgrade the water reticulation system so that there is no shortage of water,” said Mr Matavire.

“A smart city means everything must be provided 42/7. We want it to have its own water plant so that we have water pumped from the nearby Tugwi River into the plant specifically for Chibi Turn-off.

In light of the proximity of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, the layout plan has area reserved for hotels and other accommodation facilities in anticipation of the flocking of tourists to the dam.

“We have a big stand for a 3 to 5 star hotel, we want a mini-shopping mall built going upwards so that on top there is accommodation for different businesses,” said Mr Matavire.

“For an industrial site, we want a big infrastructure so that people can go in and do various industrial projects. If we get an investor we want to demolish the existing structures at the business centre so that we have one big block and those already operating there can occupy the ground area while on top there are other businesses.”

It is a development that will change the face of not only Chibi Turn-off, but Chivi and surrounding districts.

“We want to change the face outlook of the centre,” said Mr Matavire. “We also created supermarkets, filling stations etc. The idea is that when you are there you must get everything in one space. We have plans for the environment, the smart city is about cleanliness. Internet connectivity will be available.

“We are partnering with the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and they were here two weeks ago for a discussion and now they are working on the costings. They want a clear MOU in terms of payments. We have officials from Exodus company who are also interested in partnering with council on the project.”

Considering the huge interest and the clear development plan, there is nothing that can stop a new, smart city coming up at Chibi Turn-off.

With the Beitbridge Border Post having been modernised, and President Mnangagwa officially commissioning the completed works on Wednesday, there are a lot of benefits set to accrue at the Chibi Turn-off Smart City.

The city will act as one of the service providers for the modernised border post considering the short drive between the two centres.

It will also serve as a gateway to other big cities such as Gweru, Masvingo and Bulawayo.

The upgrading and reconstruction of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway and that of Chivi-Mhandamabwe Road, which both service Chibi Turn-off, have already improves accessibility to the area by facilitating speedy movement of goods and humans.

The Second Republic is indeed showing the way on how rural areas can be changed for the better.

While the country has been used to have innovation coming out of big cities like Harare, there is no doubt that tables are turning this time around and rural areas are beginning to have huge say.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): lovemore chikova

Quelle/Source: The Herald, 02.09.2022

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