The Sunday Mail
Mbire, just like the other districts that run parallel to the country’s borders, has faced a number of challenges, with the most glaring being the lack of infrastructural development, especially the road network.
Where in previous instances the 50km drive from Guruve Growth Point to Mahuwe used to be an arduous two to three-hour drive, the Government, through its various departments, has stepped in to repair the stretch of road leading to Mahuwe, as well as building and repairing bridges.
The Member of Parliament for Mbire, Honourable Douglas Karoro, said his constituency is grateful to the various Government departments that have chipped in to make sure that the residents of Mbire have a road network that compares favourably with the rest of the nation.
“Those who have been to Mbire will readily acknowledge the poor state of our roads but this is a thing of the past now as we have embarked on some major upgrades, repairs and in some instances opening new roads.
“For example, the Kanyemba border, which at one time used to be as busy as Chirundu, is undergoing a major upgrade and recently we held an investors’ conference, calling on prospective investors to come and develop Kanyemba into the town that it should be.
“There are so many business opportunities that lie along the Zambezi River, from the tourism and leisure front, to banking and retail. But for investors to come and invest in Kanyemba, or for Mbire to be developed, there is need for a reliable road network, reason why the Government has taken the major step in rehabilitating the road network,” explained Hon Karoro recently.
The first encounter of roadworks is in Mvurwi, just 100 kilometres out of Harare, where the narrow bridge leading into the farming town is undergoing a major upgrade. Then the stretch from Guruve Prison to Mhishi Farm has been re-tarred.
“The total stretch was 19 kilometres, of which five kilometres have already been tarred and the remainder has been graded. The contractor who took the remainder is slightly behind schedule but should have tarred that part.
“Further inside Mbire, the local council is doing tremendous work in repairing some roads and bridges, at times with the help of the local communities.
“The District Development Fund (DDF) and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development have been working on the other hand, making sure that Mbire is accessible. It should be noted that Mbire has heavy black soils in most parts and during the rainy season the district was highly impassable due to slippery roads. Besides, the district also lies in the Zambezi Escarpment and is always on the receiving end of flash floods, of which the road network is usually the main casualty. Our hope is that the latest interventions will enable people to move unhindered,” further said Hon Karoro.
Victor Chamanga, one of the villagers who was co-ordinating the construction of a bridge in the district’s Ward 17, said the villagers’ cheer cannot be out into words. “This bridge is vital for this whole community. It gives our schoolchildren access to schools, we can transport our produce to the markets with ease and public transport operators can use the road that there is this bridge, access to Mushumbi Pools is now guaranteed.”
Just like most development projects being undertaken in the district, villagers report for work at 8am every morning, giving four hours of work per day. The secretary of the project keeps a register of those who report for duty.
After clocking 60 hours per month, each household is then rewarded with a bag of maize, 4 litres of cooking oil and 10kg of either peas or beans.
Added Chamanga: “Besides ensuring that we are left with something that we will own for ages, the food for assistance programmes ensure that the shocks that we sometimes experience in our district, especially when we have floods, are minimised.”
For Hon Karoro, who was born and bred in the district, it is about making sure everyone is free to move wherever and whenever they want.
“The Sapa Bridge, I would have loved you to see the community there at work as well as get an appreciation of how damaged the bridge was, is an example of how we are getting communities to own these projects.
“In the rainy season, buses don’t get to Chidodo because the river is not accessible, cutting off that part of the country from the rest. And in today’s times, when inter-connectivity is not just a must but a right, we saw it fit that the repair of Sapa Bridge is a top priority. And the community has been very helpful in providing local resources like labour,” said Hon Karoro.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development was repairing the road just five kilometres outside Mushumbi Pools, laying culverts so the storm- water does not make the road impassable.
“At the peak of the rainy season, this stretch of road is usually impassable and the Mbire community is grateful to the ministry for the intervention as now Mushumbi Pools, a pivotal business centre for the district will be easily accessible this coming rainy season,” said Hon Karoro.