Lafarge unveils houses for employees

HARARE - One of Zimbabwe’s leading cement companies, Lafarge, last week unveiled 85 houses it  build for its employees who do not have decent accommodation under a $1,8 million scheme.

Lafarge chief executive Amal Tantawi (pictured) said the housing scheme at Adelaide Park in Harare was aimed at reducing the country’s 1,25 million housing backlog through the provision of affordable accommodation.

“We have an opportunity to review the current process of owning a home,” she said during the commissioning of the project last week.

“Currently, financial institutions have done a lot to try and ease the housing backlog. However, given the multiple relationships that they have to manage, such as the developer , the government, the contractor, building material suppliers…this leads to significant transactional costs and the housing becomes less affordable,” she said.

Potential homeowners are currently faced with many challenges including steep interest rates, high cost building materials, bogus land barons and high deposit rates.

Shelter Zimbabwe, which partnered with Lafarge for the development of at least 2 800 residential stands at Adelaide Park, said there was need for the government to supply water to the new community.

“We have seen at least 8 000 people being employed directly and indirectly during the period of delivering this project phase alone,” Shelter Zimbabwe chairperson Kudzai Maguchu.

“The project continues to convert lives of many unemployed people through empowering them in various contracts they have been securing to earn a living,” he said.

National Building Society (NBS), which provided finance for the project, both completed and semi-finished units — allowing the families to finish the houses at their own time — is also targeting to finance more projects in Bindura, Chinhoyi and Gweru in the coming few months.

“As NBS we have adopted a two-pronged approach to the delivery of housing. One which is internally driven relying on our own resources including Nssa land banks to put our own housing developments such as Glaudina,” the institution’s managing director Ken Chitando said.

Chitando noted that the building society is also working with various partners in providing housing solutions.

“Under this arrangement we will work with developers who have their own existing land. We will also come in with the off-takers and mobilise affordable finance for those prospective homeowners. We believe that this collaborative model is in line with modern trends in the region and will see more people getting involved in housing,” he added.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said it was encouraging that NBS was running at full throttle in facilitating housing delivery, though it was formed only four months ago.

“The commissioning of this initiative today is unassailable proof of the fact that public-private partnerships (PPPs) have the potential to be engines for economic development, not only in housing delivery, but across the socio-economic spectrum, as they help unlock value and forge strategic alliances that are critical for the sustainable economic recovery of the country,” he said.

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