By Lloyd Takawira
Tattered roads are set to get a facelift as government yesterday approved a ZW$480 million road rehabilitation and Infrastructure budget amidst widespread condemnation from many quarters over the state of government response to the massive road damages.
The dilapidation of the country’s road infrastructure has been worsened by heavy rains that has been experienced in most parts of the country seeing some districts being cut off with bridges and roads almost impassable.
Presenting a post Cabinet briefing ,Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said that Cabinet received an update on the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Program which was presented by Hon. Vice President Chiwenga as Chairman of the Enhanced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management.
She said government has agreed to a rehabilitation program in which major roads are set to get first priority.
“The Rehabilitation Programme is targeting the following categories: regional trunk roads linking Zimbabwe with neighboring countries; major highways connecting the main cities; major arteries in urban local authorities; rural access roads; and bridges and other drainage structures weakened or destroyed by flooding”.
Mutsvagwa added that government has since released ZWL$480 million for the roads rehabilitation program.
“Cabinet was also informed that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has already released ZW$480 million towards the Programme.
“In order to empower local communities, the communities will be engaged under the Labor-Based Arrangement where casual work shall be parceled out to them on their respective stretches along the roads. Local farmers will also be contracted to assist with verge clearing along major roads adjacent to their farms.”
The raging debate whether local authorities should be road authorities seemed nearing the end with government saying that rural district councils are supposed to led the process of infrastructural upliftment in their areas.
“The Rural District Councils have been mandated to conduct capacity building and run staff training programmes for machinery operators in their respective areas of jurisdiction. A programme to re-gravel rural roads, especially in areas with sandy soils, such as Nkayi District in Matabeleland North Province will be undertaken in order to ensure a reliable network of feeder roads which support so” said Mutsvangwa
Following the incessant rains this year, roads and bridges infrastructure across the country have been destroyed.
Meanwhile, Passengers Association of Zimbaabwe president Mr Tafadzwa Goliati said that , government should strictly monitor the disbursed funds to avoid pilfering from government officials.
“As passengers we welcome the move by government to avail funds for roads and Infrastructural rehabilitation program. However our fears are compounded by what we have seen in the past were corruption has became part of our government’s culture especially with money meant for road infrastructure”.
Mr Goliati also said that road authorities should only be local councils and the ministry of transport.
The country has a total road network of 98 049 km, distributed among the four categories of Road Authorities, namely: the Department of Roads; the District Development Fund; Urban and Local Authorities; and Rural District Authorities.