$20m kitty for road rehab

Government has availed $20 million for sprucing up over 2 000km of roads over the next two months as it moves towards rehabilitating 50 000km by year-end.

More than 21 000km have either been constructed or rehabilitated in 2018.

The current initiative is part of Government’s plan to reclaim the country’s roads, most of which are not trafficable, by 2019, after local authorities — many of them dominated by opposition political parties — have neglected infrastructure for close to two decades.

According to an Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Report seen by The Sunday Mail, 1 074km will be rehabilitated in Mashonaland East province, while $2,5 million has been set aside for road works in Harare between now and the end of next month.

In Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West provinces, a total of 296km will be rehabilitated.

In Matabeleland South, 342km will be worked on, with 111km targeted for both Masvingo and Midlands; while about 86km will be covered in Manicaland and Matabeleland North by the end of next month.

The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme was launched in March last year after the country’s roads were declared a state of disaster.

Government also plans to rehabilate 18 bridges.

The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Report reads in part: “Building on the success recorded under the programme this year, Government will sustain the level of investment to the road sector in order to reclaim our road network by 2019.

“Beyond the current interventions, Government will ensure establishment of sustainable funding for the road sector, with resources being drawn from the budget’s road fund, as well as the private sector through joint venture partnerships.

“A total of $20 million has been set aside for national consolidated ‘hotspots’ road projects for the period June-July 2018.”

Government’s overarching plan is to spruce up trunk roads, airports and railways at an estimated cost of $2,7 billion.

Mr Smart Dumba, a research expert in traffic planning, public transport and transport-land use interaction, said a good road network was a key enabler of economic growth.

“This is a positive move, which not only ensures that goods and people are transported easily, but improves the ease of doing business, which will see countries in the region using our roads,” said Mr Dumba.

“Feasibility studies have already been done, so I hope our road rehabilitation programme is treated with the urgency it deserves.”

It is believed that Zimbabwe’s transport infrastructure is 18 years behind that of its regional counterparts.

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