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Cement theft halts Zimbabwe bridge construction

by Staff reporter
24 Aug 2022 at 01:40hrs | Views
Two years after 300 bags of cement for the construction of Simukwe Bridge in Matobo District went missing, resulting in the work coming to a halt, no arrests have been made. Villagers suspect a District Development Fund (DDF) employee was responsible.

However, the DDF says only 107 bags went missing.

Simukwe Bridge links Matobo and Mangwe districts.

According to a villager Mr Majaha Ncube, the cement was sold to businesspeople within the ward as well as ordinary villagers who were building their houses. When construction started in 2019, only approaches from both sides of the bridge were constructed before a shift in Government priorities and the theft of cement led to a progress halt.

Government had to shift its priorities and focused on road maintenance after a number of roads were destroyed by heavy rains in the district.

"Construction stopped after 300 bags were stolen by people from DDF, that is an open secret, everybody knows. Those bags were sold to businesspeople as well as some villagers at very low prices. The matter was reported at Mayobodo Police Station under case number RR4201312 but we are surprised as to why there were no arrests," said Mr Ncube.

He said a few weeks ago, an official from DDF told them that the person who is alleged to have stolen the cement will have to replace the bags through deductions from his salary. Matabeleland South District Development Fund provincial co-ordinator Mr Moment Malandu confirmed the disappearance of the bags but insisted that they were 107, not 300.

"The case is still under police investigation. The DDF disciplinary system has not concluded as well, however, please note that the cement that went missing was 107 bags and not 300," said Mr Malandu.

He said the net was closing in on the suspects but refused to reveal their identities or whether they were DDF employees or not.
"The net is closing in on them, slowly but surely. Since the case is still under investigation further details may be counterproductive," said Mr Malandu.

Police could not immediately comment on the matter.

The river is a major crossing point for motorists and pedestrians while children from Ward 5 also cross the river to attend school at Mambale primary and secondary schools in Mangwe district and when the river is flooded the two districts are cut off with villagers also failing to access the clinic located at Mambale Business Centre, also in Mangwe.

Government has since released $80 million for construction work to resume with Mr Malandu revealing in an interview with Chronicle in June that they had purchased 600 bags. DDF acting director, Engineer Goodwill Mapako early this month said construction of the bridge was expected to be complete by early next year.

The Second Republic has made it a priority to build, maintain and rehabilitate bridges throughout the country under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase 2 (ERRP2). The funds are coming from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara). The reconstruction of roads and bridges is an economic enabler and a driver towards the attainment of the Government's Vision to achieve an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

It falls directly within the National Development Strategy 1(NDS1). It is also the new dispensation's thrust for the country to have a well-developed, trafficable and safe trunk, rural and urban road network.

Source - The Chronicle