GUTU - Residents of Mpandawana and stall holders of the new flea market which was opened at the beginning of this year have questioned the costs of putting up the market as has been made public by the town, saying they suspect the costs are being inflated.
The stall holders are arguing that the costs that are being paraded are not commensurate with the quality of material that was used to construct the market.
Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, traders said they are strongly convinced that the town board was deliberately inflating the costs to cover up their corruption tracks.
"We were surprised to hear that the construction costs of this market stood at $80 000 yet only diamond mesh wire, treated poles and zinc roofing sheets were used during construction.
"Even if we are to add the cost of cement and the paint that was splashed on the roofing sheets, the cost would never get to $80 000," one trader said.
The traders also complained that the rentals were too high as business was low and most of them were finding it difficult to make the monthly payments.
"We are expected to fork out $30 every month yet we can hardly afford it as business volumes are low in view of the current economic hardships in the country.
Gutu United Residents and Ratepayers Association (Gurra) chairman, Lloyd Mufudze, said councillors who were elected to represent the people were not doing their work as they were misrepresenting facts about the costs.
"Even a layman who is not a quantity surveyor can see that the people are being taken for a ride here. By simply looking at the flea market you can deduce that the construction costs have been highly inflated.
"It is time that council stopped taking the people for granted and give them information that is accurate," Mufudze said.
Gutu Rural Diistrict Council Chief Executive Officer, Alexander Mtembwa, was not available for comment while new Mpandawana Town Board chairman, Gabriel Mapepa, said he was not privy to how the costs were estimated.
Corruption in most town council has seen local government minister, Savior Kasukuwere taking a heavy stand, with some senior council officials in Chiredzi, Zvishavane and Gweru being in the firing line.news