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Bulawayo - Victoria Falls Highway rehab set to resume

by Staff reporter
18 Feb 2024 at 23:46hrs | Views
THE rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway is expected to resume in the next two weeks as the Government commits to improving the country's road infrastructure in response to concerns by the motoring public, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Developing a sound transport infrastructure is a key economic enabler and at the heart of President Mnangagwa's transformation drive towards achieving an upper middle-income economy vision by 2030.

The President has already outlined the key infrastructural projects that his Government will undertake this year, which include the construction of roads and dams.

The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls is one of the key priority projects given its economic impact as it connects local businesses with Southern African countries such as Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

The plan was to repair most sections of the highway, catching up on maintenance, while rebuilding those sections so severely damaged that basic repairs and patching were impossible.

The route is also a strategic access point to the country's tourist destinations such as the Hwange National Park among other conservancies and the Victoria Falls.

However, some sections of the highway have become littered with potholes making it difficult for motorists to navigate the road. Government has said the permanent solution to fixing the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway is to do an overhaul reconstruction such as was done on the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway.

While rehabilitation works had started towards the end of last year in some sections of the road, the project stalled due to financial challenges and the rains have worsened the situation.

Speaking in Parliament during Question Time last week, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona said the rehabilitation of some sections of Bulawayo-Victoria Falls would resume within two weeks using budgetary allocations from Treasury to rehabilitate the country's roads.

"I am glad to inform the House that the ministry is forging ahead with its work even though our budget allocation is not enough," said Minister Mhona.

"I am also glad to inform you that my ministry will be in Matebeleland North to see how best we can rehabilitate the road. We started with the rehabilitation of 20 km before proceeding to the next phase of 40km. You will also note that we will be rehabilitating the whole road from Beitbridge through Bulawayo and Hwange to Victoria Falls.

"So, in response to your question on when rehabilitation is going to be resumed, my response is that we are going to resume work within the next two weeks. All the redundant materials that were lying alongside the roads will be used."

Minister Mhona said the Government was aware that contractor, Bitumen World, who was rehabilitating the road, had since stopped operations. Before stopping, the company had set up a mini-plant in Gwayi along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road.

Minister Mhona said the country's self-financing model as a result of illegal sanctions was limiting the country's ability to fast-track infrastructure development.

"I want to inform the House that the way we rehabilitate our roads is different from other countries because road rehabilitation requires a lot of money. In other countries, they get their money from different financial institutions at a lower interest rate," he said.

"I also want to applaud His Excellency ED Mnangagwa's leadership for acknowledging that we cannot wait and cry that we are under sanctions, he gave us a leeway to use one wallet from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe".

Minister Mhona said being dependent on the country's revenue streams for infrastructural development is sometimes affected by the need to respond to emergencies including the cholera outbreak.

"Since it is one wallet where we get money, if you hear about pandemics or outbreaks like cholera and other issues, this means that all these issues need to be addressed urgently, All the money from Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will now be channelled towards the pandemic or disease since the country prioritises resources towards those pandemics," he said.

Recently, a section of Bulawayo-Nkayi Road was reopened after it had been closed for more than two years.

Bubi Constituency National Assembly member Cde Simelisizwe Sibanda, who is also the Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister, has challenged the Ministry of Transport to restore confidence in the Government by completing the rehabilitation of the road within time as opposed to what is obtaining where it is targeting to rehabilitate 10km of the road per year.

Source - The Herald