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Victoria Falls damaged roads affect tourism

by Staff reporter
01 Mar 2023 at 07:02hrs | Views
A MAJORITY of roads within Victoria Falls are now littered with potholes following heavy rains that fell in the country recently.

In the past, potholes were not common in the city compared to other urban local authorities.

There are sections of some roads around the tourism city that were known to have isolated potholes but lately, vehicles have to negotiate their way around potholes.

Players in the tourism sector fear a bad state of road network will negatively impact on tourism.

They have since implored authorities to quickly attend to the situation.

They said poor roads in the city, together with the heavily damaged Bulawayo-Victora Falls Road were a threat to tourism.

The worst affected areas are intersection of Livingstone Way and Park Way in the city centre, intersection of Livingstone Way and Kazungula road turn-off and the whole stretch up to VID road.

The two roads leading to Moringa via Mukali and via Chamabondo are also littered with potholes.

These are roads used by tour operators while carrying tourists around the city.

Livingstone Road and Kazungula Road are administered by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development's Department of Roads.

Tourism players have implored Government to make the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road a priority and declare a state of emergency.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) chairperson Mr Chiku Mulinde yesterday said the industry is concerned that the domestic market, as well as self-drives from South Africa are severely affected because of the state of the road.

Mr Mulinde said Hwange and Victoria Falls are almost isolated from the rest of the country which affects domestic tourism especially this time of the year when international arrivals are low as it is off peak.

He said the post Covid-19 recovery will be further slowed down if no urgent attention is given both to the highway and Victoria Falls City roads. Government has said it expects to start routine maintenance of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway by mid next month and has since invited tenders.

"We have seen potholes have developed locally but the 40km stretch into Hwange and between Gwayi and Lupane is the worst. Some parts of the road have virtually disappeared and this poses a danger to self-drive tourists and citizens.

"The road is now an unacceptable death trap and is already affecting domestic tourism. We appreciate that the entire highway has been earmarked for rehabilitation and that repair works are to be done after the rainy season," said Mr Mulinde.

"We have heard many promises to fix it but it has reached a point requiring urgent action as the road is now in a very bad state and should be declared a state of emergency so as to prioritise and possibly bring forward the rehabilitation programme."

Suppliers to the tourism industry from outside the destination are also negatively affected due to frequency of breakdowns as a result of the state of the road.

"It must be noted that the state of affairs is impacting negatively to Hwange and Victoria Falls as the two destinations in Matabeleland North are now less attractive. The impact of costs to suppliers is further increased due to wear and tear.

"Domestic tourism has slowed down due to road conditions and there is danger of losing income because the destination is now less attractive to road users. Our appeal as HAZ is to have this important road declared a state of emergency and rehabilitated as soon as possible to enable the tourism business to recover post Covid," he said.

Speaking in Victoria Falls recently, chairperson of the national technical team established by the Government to monitor the implementation of road projects under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2) Mr Christopher Shumba called for collaboration between the department of roads and local authorities in fixing trunk roads within urban areas.

He was speaking in reference to a section of the highway near Masue Bridge which was destroyed by rains last year and the department of roads repaired recently.

"We thank the department for quickly reacting to the emergency and fixing the road. Victoria Falls community was particularly worried that the city would be isolated and lose tourists.

"We want to encourage collaboration between the department of roads and local authorities so that they work together to fix roads. The local authority can help by monitoring the roads," he said. Victoria Falls City officials had not responded to questions emailed to them on Monday.

Source - The Chronicle