Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter
The Borrowdale Ratepayers and Residents Association (BRRA) says dream of restoring Helensvale Shopping Centre to order and its yesteryear glamour is becoming a reality after the concerted efforts of residents and shop owners who have taken council to task over the chaos at the shops.
Illegal activities, pirate taxis, lorries for hire, vendors, drug peddlers and money changers had taken over Helensvale Shopping Centre creating disorder of unprecedented levels. Some residents were now shunning doing their shopping at Helensvale Shopping Centre because of the anarchy.
Businesspeople renting space at the shopping centre were fleeing the chaos in search while home owners with houses close to the shopping centre were staring a fall in the values of their properties.
However, the face of the general area around the shopping centre is taking a new look as empty spaces are being put to good use and landscaping being done to beautify the place.
In a statement, BRRA said it was pleasing that the residents’ efforts are bearing fruit although at some point they thought it was just a pipe dream as municipal enforcement agencies seemed to be playing second fiddle to the illegal activities that were prevailing at the shopping centre.
“Of major concern has been the increase of human traffic, most of whom have sinister agendas. The possibility of Helensvale shops being a hub of drug distribution is not far-fetched as most activities have gone uncensored with rumours and suspicions that some law enforcement agents are the kingpins of overt operations. Most Vendors, who have been operating outside the confines of the law, are alleged to be residents of the police station adjacent to the business centre. As we speak, the situation is improving after high ranking interventions. We are riding on the interests that senior Government and council officials have taken to improve the situation.
“We could not fathom the sight of the icons of our neighbourhood deteriorating. Businesses there had lost good clientele and property owners were experiencing high tenant turnover. Now with order restored, it will make business sense investing at Helensvale. The current momentum will lead to significant changes to the tainted face of our (shopping) complex. The area behind Kugona Chete complex and adjacent to Crowhill Road is work in progress and will culminate into a world class complex that residents and visitors will take pleasure in visiting and patronising. Total and Zuva (fuel stations) as well as Spar Helensvale have put in a lot of effort towards transforming the area but were being overshadowed by the illegalities that were spreading like a veld fire,” the residents’ body said.
A stakeholders’ meeting was held on Wednesday this week at Borrowdale District Office to map a strategy towards restoring order at Helensvale Shopping Centre.
“Good evening Helensvale business owners/residents. After some wide consultations over the last few days coupled with assistance from some business owners among us, we have sought and acquired the audience of leaders of the top law enforcement agencies to assist with restoring order at Helensvale. As you can see the impact of their interventions is becoming more and more visible at the business centre. To this effect we are convening a stakeholder meeting Wednesday (May 24, 2023), 1400 hours at the Borrowdale District Office. Top officers of the various agencies will be present to map the best way forward together with us and we are inviting all business owners and other interested parties to this meeting so that we may jointly shape the Helensvale we want. We must reclaim every square inch of our shopping complex to order,” BRRA chairperson Mr Robert Mutyasira said in the invite the residents’ association sent out to stakeholders and residents.
The BRRA has been leading efforts to restore order at Helensvale Shopping Centre.
A number of business centres in the northern suburbs are in a state of decay with the notable ones being Mandara Shopping Centre, Athlone Shopping Centre, Chisipite Shopping Centre and Pendennis Shopping Centre in Mt Pleasant.
Greendale Shopping Centre has been redeveloped and the first phase of the newly refurbished complex, formerly known as PaGomba, opened recently with a number retail shops, specialist shops and other services among the new offerings.
New owners bought the complex and gave it a US$500 000 facelift much to the appreciation of Greendale residents who had to travel to either Kamfinsa or other shopping centres in the northern suburbs for their shopping.