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Calls for urgent repair of Victoria Falls, Tsholotsho, Nkayi roads grow louder

by Staff reporter
08 Jan 2024 at 05:32hrs | Views
MATEBELELAND North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Richard Moyo, has urged the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to speed up the rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway as well as Nkayi and Tsholotsho roads, which are in a bad state.

This comes as motorists and the travelling public have expressed concern over the state of the road network, which has worsened since the start of the rainy season.

While significant progress had been made in rehabilitating the Bulawayo Victoria Falls Road, works have since stopped after the contractor, Bitumen World, ceased operations three months ago.

Since the onset of the rains, the strategic highway is now littered with potholes making driving a nightmare for motorists. The situation is the same for the Bulawayo-Nkayi and Tsholotsho roads, among others.

Responding to these concerns, Minister Moyo said he would make a follow-up with both ministries to get answers about the pullout of Bitumen from Victoria Falls Road and seek commitments to speeding up other roads.

"While we are grateful for all development projects initiated by President Mnangagwa and the Second Republic such as Hwange Unit 7 and 8, Lupane State University development, progress at the Welshman Mabhena Government Complex and the Lake Gwayi Shangani, among others in the province, we are being let down by our road network," he said in an interview.

"We want to understand the situation between the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance concerning the contractor who has stopped work.

"So, we will follow up through my office to find out what is happening because people are complaining about Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road. Even tourists are complaining because potholes have resurfaced."

Minister Moyo concurred that the strategic highway leading to the country's prime resort destination was being dented by numerous potholes, a situation that needs urgent attention.

He said attention also needs  be given to the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho and Bulawayo-Nkayi Roads, which have been severely damaged over the years and need urgent sprucing up.

"Also, the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho and Bulawayo-Nkayi Roads are no longer trafficable. While we await them to be tarred, we have to encourage the Ministry of Transport to grade these roads and apply gravel," said Minister Moyo.

"These are our major roads in the province and are all in a bad state, which affects the distribution of food aid and agricultural inputs."

The three roads are the major communication links in Matabeleland North while Lupane-Nkayi-Kwekwe road popularly known as "Fighting Road" is earmarked for upgrading as it is seen as a shorter route from Harare to Victoria Falls via Kwekwe.

The Government has already announced the adoption of a new Road Development Programme, a successor initiative to the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2) whose term lapsed at the end of last year with private sector funding expected to revitalise the country's road network.

This buttresses the need to enhance the construction and maintenance of the country's major roads, whose scope includes concessioning out to the private sector players who would recoup their investment through tolling under private-public partnerships (PPPs) or a Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona is on record saying the Government was determined to prioritise feeder roads linking various towns to ease pressure from the trunk roads.

Bitumen World had set up an Asphalt Plant in Gwayi to enhance its works with a target of rehabilitating a 30km stretch from Hwange towards Victoria Falls and patching potholes between Hwange and Bulawayo before the onset of the rainy season.

The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway is a strategic trade route on the regional north-to-south corridor, linking Zimbabwe with South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia as well as the DRC via Beitbridge.

Pothole patching was also supposed to be completed between the Beitbridge border and Makhado in Matabeleland South

Road construction falls under the infrastructure clusters and roads are regarded as key economic enablers in the attainment of Vision 2030, that of achieving an upper-middle-income society.

Haulage trucks, mainly from the coal mining areas in the Hwange district, have been largely blamed for the rapid deterioration of the road, leading to legislators calling for the implementation of a resolution that 15 percent of minerals or cargo from mining houses be transferred to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

However, the railway entity has been facing challenges resulting in most businesses resorting to using heavy trucks on the roads, which has been blamed for damaging major highways, which increases the cost of maintenance and rehabilitation.

Source - The Chronicle