The Sunday Mail
Government has set aside over US$200 million to rehabilitate 50 000km of road — an initiative envisaged to create 10 000 jobs and open major trade routes.
Some of the money will help beef up road construction/maintenance equipment in local authorities.
Zimbabwe collects millions of dollars yearly in road transit fees from goods with transnational distribution channels that pass through the country.
However, an overly poor and oft-unnavigable road network has seen transit earnings diminish, with countries like South Africa contemplating circumventing Zimbabwe.
The 2017 National Roads Condition and Inventory Survey indicated that 30 percent of roads were “poor to very poor” and 40 percent were fair.
Authorities reason the latest phase of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme will increase opportunities for commerce, spurring economic development. A 2018 National Budget supplement seen by The Sunday Mail shows that Government will sustain road investment over the next two years.
The supplement reads, in part, “. . . In this regard, a total of US$233 million will be channelled to the road sector, with US$64,2 million being mobilised from the budget, Road Fund (US$153,9 million); and road authorities own resources (US$14,6 million).
“The planned works will largely target preventative and scheduled periodic maintenance works, comprising resealing, overlays and regravelling of outstanding sections of the 98 000km road network.
“Additional resources of US$12,9 million will be set aside for dualisation works along the country’s trunk network as: the Harare-Mutare road section between Goromonzi turn-off and Jamaica Inn toll plaza (US$2,5 million); Harare-Bulawayo road section between Norton Service Centre and Norton toll plaza (US$2,1 million) and Harare-Beitbridge (expected compensation; US$3, 4 million).” It also says: “During 2018, equipment worth US$28,3 million will be procured through the budget and Road Fund, (with) US$8,3 million targeting the Department of Roads and other selected road authorities.
“A total of 10 799 jobs were created under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme through the engagement of contract/casual workers, with at least 139 private contractors having been engaged nationwide.
“Contractors are also being encouraged to increase community participation as much as possible through engagement of local labour in the implementation of the programme.”
University of Zimbabwe physical planning lecturer Mr Smart Dumba said: “This is a positive move, which not only ensures that goods and people are transported easily, but improves ease of doing business, which will see countries in the region using our roads.
“At one point, South Africa contemplated constructing a road which goes to Zambia, however, bypassing Zimbabwe because of its poor road network. Feasibility studies have already been done there, so I hope our road rehabilitation programme is treated with the urgency it deserves.”
In February 2017, Government declared Zimbabwe’s roads a disaster and rolled out the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme.
The programme was two-phased, with Phase 1 covering emergency works and Phase 2 focusing on rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Some 53 672km were graded and over 1 300km resealed and reconstructed.
Bush and drain-clearing covered over 8 000km and 3 170km, respectively.
Over 1 428km of carriage markings were also accounted for, while 67 bridges were constructed.
Repairs included Nkankezi bridge along Zvishavane-Bulawayo Road and Wedza-Mutiweshiri-Goneso Road in Mashonaland East.
Nhekairo-Chagoda Road in Hwedza was upgraded from gravel to surface and Hwange-Binga Road was rehabilitated.
Construction of Chikwizi Bridge along the Mutare-Masvingo Highway and Mutare Bridge were completed.
In Mashonaland Central, repairs on Centenary-Gutsa Road are done, so is regravelling of Old Mazowe Road.
Harare-Mukumbura; Mvurwi-Kanyemba and Katarira-Mahuwe roads are now functional, and Lonely-Motapa Road in Matabeleland North was graded.