Members of Parliament have recommended that Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) should place Hwange town’s infrastructure into the hands of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Presently, the Hwange town is owned and run by HCCL. The struggling coal producer manages the town and all social services and infrastructure, including the town’s hospital, which provides services to employees and the public.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy said these measures were necessary in view of the challenges currently weighing down on the operations of HCCL.
In its third report following a familiarisation visit to Hwange, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and energy said, “The Ministry of Local Government should take — over the town infrastructure for value and take responsibility for services such as roads, electricity, sewage treatment, etcetera.
“Other players in coal mining should contribute to infrastructure maintenance until the Ministry of Local Government takes over the infrastructure,” said the committee.
The company also has a housing stock of over 5 000 houses, which the committee suggested should be sold to current and former employees.
“Shareholders should approve sale of houses to current and former employees in order to reduce debts owed to employees.”
The country’s oldest coal mining firm, earlier in May said it was considering selling the town for $300 million as part of efforts to raise funds to off-set its obligations with a number of creditors.
This included selling part of its 5 000 employee houses to pay their salary arrears.
HCCL owes employees $70 million and the workers would be given the first priority to purchase the houses.
HCCL owes several institutions up to $352 million.
The idea of selling the company’s houses was also captured in a report compiled by HCCL’s consultants titled “HCCL Short-Term Way Forward Due Diligence Report”, which is dated November 19, 2015.