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    Friday, 23 February 2018

    Durban train inspires Gwanda mayor to start new projects



    SIPHATHISIWE MATHAMBO

    GWANDA - The Durban – Victoria Falls luxury train that brings tourists to Zimbabwe from South Africa every Friday has inspired Gwanda Mayor Knowledge Ndlovu and he is proposing new projects for the City that will attract tourists.
    The Rovos train stops at Gwanda Railway Station for two hours at 2pm every Friday and returns from Victoria Falls on Tuesday 4am. The train started its Zimbabwean trips in September 2017 and it normally has 25 coaches carrying 120 passengers.
    Tourist activities have boomed since the arrival of the train and the South African visitors are buying a lot of artifacts from Gwanda on their way to Victoria Falls. It is understood that that artifacts and souvenirs are cheaper in Gwanda than most places along the route including Victoria Falls.
    Mayor Ndlovu told The Mirror that the town council has tasked engineers to come up with new land use for areas around the railway line and station with a view to erecting facilities for tourism. He said the engineers' plans are likely to be submitted this week.
    He said that structures will be build to hold wares like handicrafts that artists from the region will be selling. The local authority also plans to build a flea market near the railway station and the rank should also be brought closer, said Ndlovu.
    "The train area is on the map, the Engineering Services department is working on it to accommodate vending sites, flea markets and taxi rank," he said.
    He confirmed a sudden boom in hospitality business with a large number of traders in artifacts turning up at the railway station every Friday. Traditional dancers are also part of the people as they perform and get some money from the tourists, said the mayor.
    The Town Council on its part has introduced an information desk at the station to give visitors pamphlets on places of interest found in Gwanda and Mat South. He said some tourists have already expressed an interest to come back and visit Mat South specifically.
    Some areas of interest in Mat South are the Matopo Hills, mining sites near Gwanda and several dams in the area, said Ndlovu.
    He also said that the Town Council has since made a budget allocation for the tourist facilities that are to be built at the railway  station.
    The chairman of the Gwanda Cultural Artifacts Association (GCAA), Raymond Mauba who organizes all the activities that happen on Fridays when the train stops over in Gwanda said the local authority's support by constructing facilities that boosts Gwanda's tourism industry is greatly appreciated.
    Gwanda is 195 km from the border and there is now revived interest to ensure that the town also attracts visitors who pass through the town by road from South Africa.
    Mauba said the train has also boosted demand for artifacts along the Gwanda – Beitbridge Highway and he urged Council to build the same structures that it will build at the railways along the highway
    One of the tourists, Henry Jacobs said they now have a clear picture of who Zimbabweans are through interacting with them.
    "When we are in our countries the picture sent to us about Zimbabweans is of violent people contrary to good friendly people we have met here," said Jacobs.
    Esina Kanorumbwe a housewife makes drawstring handbags and hand bangles which she takes to the train every Friday. Poet Nqindi Ndlovu said he is already getting a little by performing at the railways station.
    travel and leisure
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