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Major strides in road rehabilitation

by Staff reporter
20 Feb 2022 at 08:48hrs | Views
Rehabilitation of roads under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2) is set to gain momentum as an additional $6 billion from last year, which will add to this year's budget, will be readily deployed in ongoing works, it has been learnt.

The exercise is set to run for three years.

Last year, the Government disbursed $16 billion for the programme.

Most provinces were unable to exhaust their allocations before the end of the fiscal year, with expenditure by all provinces hovering around the halfway mark by year-end.

Harare, for example, only spent 18,7 percent of its $1,8 billion budget by December 31.

The Government will monitor the quality of roadworks after concerns were raised over poor workmanship on some roads.

Significant progress has been made so far, with close to 38 600 kilometres of the country's road network having received extensive rehabilitation and reconstruction last year under ERRP2 against a target of 45 700km.

According to the latest ERRP2 progress report tabled in Cabinet last week, 11 555km of gravel roads were graded between March and December against a target of 17 567.

In addition, close to 1 000km of urban and trunk roads were reconstructed countrywide out of the planned 1 426km.

The scope of works also included pothole patching (5 227km), gravelling (2 569km), drainage construction and repair (1 678km), resealing (182km), gully reclamation (287km), verge clearing (10 000km) and drains clearing (6 166km).

"At the national level, significant progress had been made in implementing the ERRP2 by December 31, 2021 on the repair and construction of drainage structures, as well as the reclamation of gullies and the repair of wash-aways, where the percentage completion of works was above 70 percent," read the progress report.

"However, this fell short of the 83,33 percent completion required at that time considering that the 10 out of 12 months had expired."

Much of the delayed implementation of projects was attributable to roads authorities' slow start even after receiving their first advance payments in April/May 2021.

"It was evident that there are skills gaps in public procurement and poor supervision by the provincial technical committees and subordinate structures were the root causes of the slow start."

Roads in Mashonaland Central province received much of the rehabilitation work, with a road network stretching up to 2 500km having been gravelled, while 1 000km underwent erosion works.

Up to 500km of roads had their drainage system cleared in the province.

In Mashonaland East province, 517 km were graded, 752km underwent verge clearance, with an additional 1 233km receiving erosion works.

According to the report, Bulawayo province had the least number of roads that underwent refurbishment.

Only 179 km of roads were either resealed or were pothole-patched.

The province spent only $128,8 million (20,6 percent) of its ERRP 2 Phase 1 budget of $625,5 million, leaving $496,7 million unused by year-end.

Despite the advanced deterioration of its road network, Harare completed only 43 percent of pothole patching works on 644 km.

The province also rehabilitated or reconstructed 60km out of the 161km which were targeted.

Just over 25 km were resealed against a target of 96km, with 126km of verge clearing works taking place against the planned on 257 km.

Adds the report: "Besides gully reclamation and wash-aways repairs, the province's only other significant accomplishment of planned works was on grading of 128 km, which was 77 percent completed.

"Reflecting its subpar performance on the ERRP 2, by December 31, 2021 Harare Metropolitan Province had spent only 18,7 percent of its Phase 1 Budget of $1 775 405 349, leaving $1 443 397 347 unspent."

According to the report, most provinces carried over their 2021 budget into this year after failing to exhaust their allocations.

Expenditure by all provinces averaged around half the of funds that were disbursed.

"The situation regarding Mashonaland West Province and the two metropolitan provinces is, however, worrisome because over the 10 months what they spent of their budgets was lower than what remained on the budget unspent.

"More specifically, Mashonaland West Province was lagging behind the other rural provinces, having spent only 41 percent of its budget allocation, while Bulawayo had spent 21 percent and Harare 19 percent.

"Significantly, Mashonaland West had the highest budget allocation, followed by Harare."

The report also raised concerns on the standard of roads constructed in some areas and recommended stricter supervision by Government.

"It has been brought to the attention of the ERRP 2 Programme Steering Committee (PSC) that some roads which were repaired or rehabilitated under Phase 1 have already developed potholes with the onset of the 2021/2022 summer rains," the report reads.

It singled out Boshoff Drive in Harare and Masiyepambili Road in Bulawayo, which is yet to be commissioned for the alleged poor workmanship.

"It has also been brought to the attention of the PSC that some works undertaken by roads authorities in-house or through contractors have failed to meet required standards.

"The poor workmanship is attributable to lack of or inadequate supervision of works by the technical staff in Government."

The report recommended that Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution constantly supervise local authorities in their areas of jurisdiction to ensure Government projects are not stifled.

Source - The Sunday Mail
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