The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
IT is often said if you pray for the rain, you have to deal with the mud, but this is not the case for Harare motorists and other road users.
As rains intensify, they are having to endure the nightmare of navigating potholes that are increasingly making most roads untrafficable.
The Harare City Council (HCC) seems unmoved, as some of the potholes are developing into craters and sinkholes due to inattention.
The local authority has consistently failed to patch up potholes and clear storm drains.
It is worse in residential areas, especially high-density suburbs.
And this comes at a high cost to ratepayers.
“It’s like all main roads in Harare are badly damaged. In Dzivaresekwa Extension, the road linking Kirkman Road through Kembo Shopping Centre to Glaudina is heavily potholed,” said Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba.
“The Kuwadzana roundabout is another disaster of a road. When you drive into Mbare, the roads in Majubheki Lines and Mbare National are no longer worth being called roads at all.
“This is the situation in most, if not all, high-density suburbs in Harare and Chitungwiza. Vehicle owners are finding it very difficult to maintain their vehicles and commuter omnibus operators are charging on average US$1 per trip to the central business district as a direct result of the bad roads.”
Mr Shumba called on the timeous disbursement of funds to deal with the crisis.
“Above all, the City of Harare is failing to maintain the drainage system, which further causes irreparable damage to the roads.”
Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) public relations and marketing manager Mr Tendai Mugabe said HCC was given enough funds last year.
More funds are expected to be disbursed this year.
In 2021 alone, HCC received $873 million from the road authority.
A further $1,4 billion — making up the bulk of the $1,7 billion for Harare Metropolitan province — was also extended to the city fathers for road maintenance.
“Pothole patching in Harare is done by the City of Harare. What we only do is to provide funding to all road authorities, City of Harare included,” said Mr Mugabe.
“In 2022, we funded them, but kindly note that we don’t prescribe which roads council should prioritise.”
But the local authority claims it only received funds from ZINARA in December last year.
HCC acting corporate communications manager Mr Innocent Ruwende said some of the worst affected areas are now receiving attention.
“We got some disbursement around December 15, 2022 from ZINARA, which was mainly meant for the completion of overlay on Robert Mugabe (Road), but due to the state of our roads at the moment, we are now using the asphalt in pothole patching,” said Mr Ruwende.
“The approach on the 500 tonnes we bought is to have the bulk of it on key city centre roads and major roads leading out of town like Lyton, Kambuzuma; Kambuzuma Drive; Fourth Avenue, Warren Park; Highfield Road; Glen Eagles; Glenara; Dieppe; Cripps; Kopje; Prince Edward; Suffolk; Samora Machel; Second Street . . .”
Harare Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume continues to insist that the council is getting a pittance from ZINARA.
With its financial books in shambles, Harare has also reportedly been struggling to make acquittals, leading to further delays in disbursements.
However, some key roads such as Masotsha Ndlovu, parts of Seke Road, King George Avenue and parts of Harare Drive that have been rehabilitated by Government under the second phase of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme are giving motorists some relief.
In 2021, President Mnangagwa declared all roads a state of disaster, paving the way for the mobilisation of resources to deal with the growing challenge.
All in all, 32 roads in Harare have been successfully rehabilitated after Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube released $12 billion for the exercise last year.
Treasury has also set aside over $70 billion for 2023.
“The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 has been allocated $70,5 billion for implementation of priority trunk and tertiary road projects in provinces and districts, as well as major arteries in urban areas,” said Minister Ncube in his 2023 Budget Statement.
“In addition, the Road Fund will support the maintenance of roads under road authorities, with $41 billion being channelled towards various road projects, and a further $43,5 billion being allocated for other road infrastructure assets, covering tollgate infrastructure development and VID (Vehicle Inspectorate Department) weighbridges.”
City of Bulawayo, however, seems to be doing better, as it is currently rehabilitating most of its roads.
Bulawayo town clerk Mr Christopher Dube recently revealed that the entire section of Luveve Road between Waverly Street and Intemba Drive will be closed off and rehabilitated.
“The works will comprise pothole patching, localised pavement reconstruction, overlays, reinstating of carriageway markings, drainage and other general maintenance works,” he said in a recent statement.
The works were scheduled to commence on January 9 and run for 90 days.
Passengers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Tafadzwa Goliati said passengers and ratepayers were the ultimate losers as transport operators are shunning routes plagued by potholes.
“There is always a blame game between ZINARA and local authorities, but it is us passengers who are affected because transport operators are shunning routes that have potholes.
“Fares have also been hiked so that they can cater for repairs and maintenance of their vehicles,” he said.