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Focus on road, rail rehabilitation to boost Zimbabwe economy

by Staff reporter
07 Apr 2024 at 10:04hrs | Views
The Government of Zimbabwe has expressed its commitment to rehabilitating the country's roads, with a particular focus on the strategic Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road. The Government aims to engage partners to work on a build-operate and transfer model for the road's rehabilitation.

In addition, efforts are being made to revamp the railway infrastructure to reduce reliance on road transport, especially for heavy cargo that damages the roads.

The current state of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road stretch is poor, with numerous potholes. To address this, the Government has contracted Bitumen World to perform pothole patching as a temporary solution while a permanent fix is sought.

Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Joshua Sacco has stated that road rehabilitation is underway for all key roads, and the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is actively seeking investors to rehabilitate the railway network. A functional rail system is seen as part of the long-term solution to the state of the road network.

He was Speaking in Victoria Falls on Thursday after officiating at the inaugural flight by Fly Namibia into Victoria Falls.

On Friday Deputy Minister Sacco toured the whole Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road stretch to assess its state and said efforts were being made to find a permanent solution to rehabilitate the road.

He said fixing the roads alone without rehabilitating the rail system amounted to nothing as the roads' lifespan would be limited.

"Tomorrow we will tour the road to Bulawayo to see its state. Currently, Bitumen World is working on a short-term solution which is patching potholes from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. So far we have done about 160km of that work and we are hoping to complete it soon.

"But looking forward, we also need a permanent solution and the permanent solution is going into private-public partnerships where we will rehabilitate the road from Beitbridge to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls and then recover the funds from toll gates. The road has to keep serving the country, it is very important in the mining and tourism sectors," he said.

Deputy Minister Sacco highlighted the importance of rehabilitating both the roads and the rail system. He emphasised that fixing the roads alone would have limited impact if the rail system was not also rehabilitated. Plans are being made to establish private-public partnerships to rehabilitate the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road and recover funds through toll gates.

This road plays a crucial role in the mining and tourism sectors of the country's economy. To alleviate the burden on the road, the Government aims to rehabilitate the railway network from Hwange to Chikwalakwala and Maputo, diverting heavy coal and copper loads from haulage trucks to rail transport.

The Deputy Minister stated that rehabilitating the rail network is a key part of the permanent solution, particularly for transporting coal for export. The Government is actively seeking investors to partner with NRZ for the rehabilitation of the railway infrastructure. The goal is to transport coal via rail rather than relying solely on road transport.

Source - The Sunday News
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