Gweru City Council has taken decisive action by closing down the iconic HAJEE Ismail Bahadur Centre, a prominent shopping complex in Gweru, Zimbabwe, renowned as Bahadur Centre. This closure comes as a result of the shopping center’s failure to settle operational fees amounting to millions of dollars.
Bahadur Centre is among the 187 businesses facing closure by the Gweru City Council due to outstanding water bills and other service charges. On Tuesday, the council initiated an operation to shut down businesses indebted to them, and a total of 40 shops within Bahadur Centre were affected by this drastic measure.
Bahadur Centre’s debt to the council has spiraled to an astonishing $60 million. Situated along Emmerson Mnangagwa Way (formerly known as First Street) in Gweru’s central business district, this bustling shopping complex is a hub for various businesses, including beauty salons, electrical shops, and clothing stores, making it one of the city’s busiest and most popular destinations.
The closure led to pandemonium within the center as council workers armed with chains and locks sealed off the shops. Some tenants were left stranded, while others attempted to continue their businesses outdoors.
In response to this sudden development, some tenants approached the real estate company responsible for managing the building, seeking guidance. According to one dealer, they were assured that the shops would be reopened soon, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the uncertainty.
A cellphone shop operator commented on the situation, expressing surprise at being labeled in arrears despite consistently paying their bills through the estate agent. The closure has undoubtedly resulted in significant losses for many shop owners.
Gweru City Council’s public relations officer, Ms. Vimbai Chingwaramusee, explained that numerous businesses had been compelled to shut down due to their failure to settle rates, water bills, and other charges. She emphasized the importance of regular bill payments to prevent such inconveniences and encouraged businesses to meet their financial obligations promptly.