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Tuesday 17 August 2021

Enviro Watch in drive to reduce firewood consumption

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

A LOCAL community organisation has launched an environment conservation project where it is distributing less firewood consuming stoves to households.

Vic Falls Enviro Watch’s motive is to reduce cutting down of trees for firewood and use of open fire in the household. It gave 15 rocket stoves to Siyazama Women’s Group in Victoria Falls as a pilot project which will be rolled out to the whole city if successful.

This comes in the wake of a suspension of issuing of permits to sell firewood and the national blitz against illegal firewood and charcoal dealers by the Forestry Commission.

There have been concerns about massive cutting down of trees in and around Victoria Falls by residents for firewood.

A majority of them come from some parts of Mkhosana, Chinotimba, Aerodrome and CBZ stands that have no electricity.

Fifteen women who are members of Siyazama Women’s Group were given rocket stoves on Saturday as a pilot project.

A rocket stove is made of a four-dimensional hollow pipe with three openings, one being an inlet for firewood, the other is a fire outlet on which the plate is mounted, and a breather at the bottom.

The stove uses twigs and chips from wood hence consumes three times less firewood than an open fire.

Vic Falls Enviro Watch made the stoves which are being given free of charge as a pilot project.

The organisation’s chairperson Mr Tony Peel said their motive is to reduce cutting down of trees and use of open fire at home.

“We are concerned about unsustainable developments in Victoria Falls and so we decided to come up with these rocket stoves which are generally three times effective than open fire and use limited energy but with high output.

This is a pilot project which we will be monitoring and once it’s effective we will roll it out to the whole town,” said Mr Peel.

He said the concept will be spread countrywide if it proves to be a success with the aim of reducing deforestation across the country.

Vic Falls Enviro Watch has also erected wildlife related road signs along the Victoria Falls-Kazungula road to prevent accidents caused by wildlife.Victoria Falls ward 11 councillor Edmore Zhou who helped in the formation of Siyazama Women’s Group said members will be assisted in getting firewood from the Forestry Commission.

‘We are negotiating with Forestry Commission so that club members can have access to firewood. The beauty about this stove is that it uses very little firewood meaning you won’t have to endanger your lives going into the wildlife infested bush. The council will soon be raiding firewood dealers and you will be safe,” he said.

Siyazama chairperson Mrs Ketani Phiri said: “Most of us have been arrested and encountered wild animals in the bush. We fetch firewood all year round except for the rainy season when the bush will be thick. So, we sat down and thought of having something sustainable hence we came up with the idea of this club. We want to try this stove and we hope it will work well so we don’t frequent the bush.”

Most houses in Victoria Falls have heaps of firewood which they poach from the surrounding bush. — @ncubeleon

Source: Enviro Watch in drive to reduce firewood consumption (16/08/21)

Monday 16 August 2021

Refurbishment works on Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe to begin

 Refurbishment works on Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe is set to begin. Acting general manager of the hotel, Mr Farai Chimba made the announcement and said that works will start in January 2020 and set for completion by early 2021.

For only the fifth time in its 115-year history The Victoria Falls Hotel is to undergo a major refashioning and refurbishment programme, starting January 2020 and set for completion by early 2021.

Details of the revamp works

According to Mr Farai the refurbishment is aimed at the creation of a stylish marriage of the hotel’s unique historic heritage and introduction of the most modern amenities and facilities expected by top-end travelers of the 21st century.

“The revamp works upon completion will enhance the Victoria Falls Hotel’s reputation as one of Africa’s most significant travel and tourism assets and break exciting new ground in the Zimbabwean hospitality industry,” said the Acting Manager.

The project will focus more on public areas, as well as the bedrooms and suites, apart from those in The Stables Wing. This will be experienced through furniture, d├ęcor, ornaments, features and facilities, with an emphasis on light, bright, cool and comforting, paying genuine homage to a proud history.

Key features of the exercise will be increasing inflow of light, granting greater access to views of the hotel grounds, creating walk-in showers in bathrooms, as well as upgrading lighting, air conditioning and electrical features such as points for using and charging devices in all bedrooms and suites.

“Work will be carried out in low-season periods between January 2020 and May 2020 and between January 2021 and May 2021, removing any need to close the hotel for this substantial elevation of physical infrastructure and visual elements, and eliminating any impact on guests staying in the hotel,” said Mr Farai.

Victoria Falls Hotel

The Victoria Falls Hotel was opened in 1904, at the time of the arrival of the northbound railway development that stemmed from a vision to create a Cape-to-Cairo rail system, and just ahead of the opening of the famous road and rail bridge that crosses the gorge below the falls to link Zimbabwe with Zambia. This will be only the fifth time in its 115-year history to undergo revamp works.

Upon completion, the current 61 Classic bedrooms will average 25 square metres and offer dedicated entrance foyer, king-sized bed or convertible twin beds, with lounge setting, bathroom with large walk-in shower, full wardrobe with luggage storage, generous refreshment station and luxurious mosquito net enclosure.

The 25 brand new Premium bedrooms will average 43 square metres with dedicated entrance foyer, separate TV lounge, generous refreshment station, king-sized bed or convertible twin beds, with luxurious mosquito enclosure, walk-through dressing area with large wardrobe and luggage storage, bathroom featuring large walk-in shower.

The 11 suites will each average 72 square metres, with dedicated entrance foyer, separate living room including TV lounge, dining area, generous minibar, separate guest WC, luxury king-sized bed or convertible twin beds, with generous mosquito enclosure and in-room lounge area, writing desk and coffee station, walk-through dressing area with large wardrobe and luggage storage, bathroom featuring large walk-in shower and free-standing bath and double vanity feature.

The existing Presidential Suite features with two bedrooms with king-sized bed or convertible twin beds, large living area with separate lounges and dining room, generous bathroom with double walk-in shower. The 42 existing Stables Wing bedrooms and suites remain unchanged.

Source: Refurbishment works on Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe to begin (15/08/21)


Monday 2 August 2021

Confusion over Victoria Falls SEZ status

 PLAYERS in the tourism sector in Victoria Falls have called upon relevant authorities to speed up the operationalisation of the Special Economic Zone status of the city as it will be a key enabler to the recovery and growth of the tourism sector.

Tax rebates on different facets that include corporate tax, employee tax as well as customs duty on capital equipment and raw materials have been identified as a key enabler in the recovery and growth of the industry as they are part of the policies and regulations that operate within a SEZ.

The local authority is saying the city was gazetted as a SEZ in 2017 but the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency has reiterated that such a status has still not yet been approved. ZIDA public relations manager Ms Constance Makoni told Sunday Business that Victoria Falls was not yet a SEZ with relevant statutory approvals under the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works yet to be made.

“The City of Victoria Falls has not yet been gazetted as an SEZ — it has been designated as space that will be gazetted, but this is still work in progress that requires the relevant statutory approvals under the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. There are still some running preparatory works being undertaken by the city with regards to spatial planning that will determine the extent of the city space and the gazetting is likely to be finalised after all these preparatory works have been completed,” she said.

However, Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Somvelo Dhlamini said Victoria Falls already has a SEZ status which it was accorded in 2017.

“Victoria Falls was accorded a Special Economic Zone status in 2017 with two areas of speciality: finance and tourism. That being the case, the SEZ status complements the promotion of Victoria Falls as a preferred tourism investment destination. Victoria Falls had applied for the extension of its boundaries in 2012.

However, an inter-ministerial consultation recommended that there is no need to expand the City to curb over-development in areas close to the World Heritage Site. As a result, Central Government established the Masue integrated resort and Ndlovu satellite town to decongest Victoria Falls,” said Clr Dhlamini
Local tour operator Mr Clement Mukwasi called for the relevant authorities to clarify the status of the city to ensure that there is smooth recovery of the city.

“It actually encompasses quite a lot of benefits that come with the designation of that SEZ. Corporate tax at the moment ranges between 24 percent and 72 percent for the companies operating outside SEZ but if a place becomes a SEZ, the corporate tax is zero rated. This means for the first five years from the time the place is designated as a SEZ you actually do not pay tax which is a serious enabler to investment,” he said.

Mr Mukwasi said if corporate tax is zero rated for the tourism industry specifically, there will be quick recovery.
“At the moment employees both locals and expatriates are taxed using different bands from the lowest up to about 40 percent depending on the salary one gets but if one is now in a SEZ, specialised expatriated staff will now be taxed at a rate of about 15 percent which is actually key again in the attraction of best brands best service providers in the industry.”

He also said due to low business as a result of Covid-19, some equipment and resources used in different tourism activities was being dilapidated hence the need for rebates in customs duty for capital equipment and raw material.

“Things like helicopters as an example do not wear out only because of use, they also wear out because of being inactive but when you want to buy parts or import a new helicopter into the country you have to pay duty for such importation. However, if the place becomes a SEZ, the capital goods will have 100 percent rebate.

This is also a key enabler to the tourism industry because remember the tourism industry operates on an international turf in that the services that we give in Victoria Falls must be similar or better than the services given in Cape Town, New York, Amsterdam or any other tourism destination,” he said.

Ms Makoni also weighed in saying the gazetting of the City as a SEZ will focus on the development of products and activities that drive or are driven by tourism.

“The designation of the spaces as Special Economic Zone will help different sectors of the economy in many ways. However, as the Victoria Falls is a major tourism resort it is expected that any activities within the SEZ will be driven by activities that play a part in the tourism value chain,” she said.

Source: Confusion over Victoria Falls SEZ status (01/08/21)