The Sunday Mail
Government has stepped up major road rehabilitation programmes across the country as it closes in on this year’s target to spruce up over 50 000 kilometres of road.
This year, Treasury released $252 million for projects covering both urban and rural roads.
Part of the funds are now being channelled towards dualising major arterial roads such as the Beitbridge-Masvingo Road.
Road construction works have created more than 10 000 jobs so far.
A progress report seen by The Sunday Mail last week shows that work on the Lupane-Nkayi highway in Matabeleland North – which is set to cut the distance from Harare to Victoria Falls – has since been rehabilitated, while 40 percent of work on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road has been completed.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Fortune Chasi said last week most road authorities are pre-occupied with various projects meant to restore and expand the country’s road network.
“Since the declaration of the state of disaster on our roads in February 2017, Government has been mobilising funds to repair the national road network.
“Road authorities – the Department of Roads, District Development Fund, rural district councils and urban councils – have already embarked on the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme,” said Deputy Minister Chasi.
“Various projects have started in all provinces, and most of the current works are being done in-house.
“Due to the emergency nature of the works at hand, some of the works will be subcontracted to local contractors,” he said.
Already, work has been completed on the Kamativi-Binga Road, which will make Binga and surrounding fishing areas accessible, while backfiling of Ingwingwisi Bridge is 90 percent complete.
Backfilling usually involves refilling an excavated area.
Government is also working on resealing the 44-km Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road in Matabeland South, with 21km having been done to date, while 53 km of the Old Gwanda Road has been rehabilitated.
In Midlands, work has started along the Mberengwa-West Nicholson Road.
Further, work on Mberengwa-Mataga Road has also begun, with Government targeting to construct 14 km of the road, while rehabilitation of the Gokwe-Siyabuwa and Mberengwa-Mataga is underway.
The Mt Darwin-Mukumbura, Mt Darwin-St Alberts and St Alberts-Dotito roads in Mashonaland Central are still being patched up.
Work started in earnest along the Harare-Marondera and Harare-Selous portions of the road.
In addition, construction of the 10-km stretch after the Norton tollgate has begun.
The project currently employs about 120 casual workers, of which 55 are women.
Significant progress has been recorded along the Hwedza-Sadza road, Mushandirapamwe-Hwedza and Beatrice-Mubaira in Mashonaland East province.
Similarly, in Masvingo the Kapota-Zimuto, Chilonga Bridge and Gutu-Buhera, including Mhandamahwe roads, are almost complete.
The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and Ministries of Transport and Infrastructure Development; Local Government, Public Works and National Housing; District Development Fund (DDF) and Zinara are jointly superintending the projects.
Mr Smart Dumba, an academic who researches on traffic planning, public transport and transport-land use interaction, said last week the current projects are a step in the right direction.
“This is a positive move which not only ensures that goods and people are transported easily, but it improves the ease of doing business and enables countries in the region to use our roads,” he said.
“At one time, South Africa was contemplating constructing a road which goes to Zambia, bypassing Zimbabwe because of the poor road network in the country.
“Feasibility studies have already been done, so I hope our road rehabilitation programme is treated with the urgency it deserves.”
Zimbabwe, which is strategically positioned along the North-South corridor, is presently developing a national transport masterplan designed to facilitate expansion of the country’s infrastructure such as roads, air and inland water and railway systems.
The 2019 National Budget reserves $910 million for road rehabilitation programmes.
A survey commissioned by Government last year indicated that the country needs an estimated $5,5 billion to rehabilitate the country’s entire road network.