BULAWAYO councillors have proposed “exorbitant fees” to discourage burials in the city while incentivising cremations as the local authority is running out of land.
The Bulawayo City Council has been advocating for cremations to save land but this has not found many takers as it is alien to African cultural values.
The council has even proposed double burials in the same grave for relatives but residents have flatly rejected the proposal.
Last year the council closed down the city’s biggest cemetery, West Park, after it ran out of burial space, forcing BCC to create an extension at Athlone cemetery while still utilising Luveve cemetery.
In the latest council report, the city fathers expressed concerns over the dwindling burial space in the city.
Ward 1’s Councillor Mlandu Ncube said the local authority should make it expensive for residents to bury their relatives in the city to save land.
Already council has hiked rates by up to 700 percent in the past five months,
“Burial costs in the city should be reviewed to discourage burials in the city. This would save the fast running out space for burial. More information should be given to residents regarding cremations,” said Cllr Ncube.
Alderman Clayton Zana of Ward 19 concurred with Cllr Ncube that more needs to be done to educate residents about the city’s fast running out land.
He said council should conduct campaigns to educate residents about the need to encourage cremations.
Ward 5 Cllr Felix Mhaka even proposed that council should conduct free cremations to encourage usage of the facility.
His suggestion was however shot down by Ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora.
“The service has overhead costs which should be charged accordingly. Only an incentive should be introduced. Residents should be encouraged to consider cremation. This would save land. The current statistics on cremation are very low,” said Cllr Chigora.
Ward 24’s Cllr Arnold Batirai said council should find alternative land for burials as cremation was unAfrican while Cllr Donald Mabutho of Ward 9 said the prevailing economic hardships make it difficult to bury deceased relatives in rural areas.
Ward 12 Cllr Lilian Mlilo said: “It was not prudent for council to increase burial fees. Grave service delivery should be affordable to everyone.”