The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has attributed its failure to undertake roadworks in the city to the persistent rains, claiming that it will only be able to start roadworks when the rains subside.
The local authority has over the past couple of months been in the eye of the storm over their continued failure to address the deteriorating road network which has seen most roads in the city being littered with potholes.
The council has further failed to take advantage of the government’s input through the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme, Devolution Funds and the Zimbabwe National Road Authority allocation, to use its resources to address roads which are not covered in these funding facilities.
Of note, most of the roads that are in good shape in the city are those that have been repaired under these Government-funded programmes.
In a statement, BCC corporate communications manager, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the city’s road network has been declining due to a large and growing backlog of deferred maintenance programmes which is attributed to lack of funding for decades.
She said road infrastructure shortcomings have resulted in increased travel time, rampant potholes, leading to a decline in road safety and high vehicle operating costs.
“The city has focused its maintenance programmes in recent years on public transport routes, arterials, and collector roads, roads leading to institutions and the Central Business District, while the majority of the network especially the local streets cannot be attended to due to financial constraints and continue to deteriorate.
“Owing to recent rains, all road maintenance works have been halted due to wet ground with the exception of minor storm water drainage works. The road works will resume as soon as the rains subside,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said year on year, budget allocations have compared unfavourably with funding considered inadequate to maintain road network, and as a result, the road network has continued to deteriorate due to the gap between maintenance requirements and funding.
“The annual road budget is traditionally formulated on the basis of a ranking obtained from the latest available Road Condition Survey and the priority is on arterials, collectors, central business district and public transport route roads. Council is working to get the required resources to address the road challenges, and several initiatives are being made to secure capital funding for road improvements.
“Approximately US$700 million is required to bring the network to good condition, and to a relatively modest road system. To increase roads in good condition by 15 percent (360km) in the next five years, a minimum level of investment of US$15 million per annum is required,” said Mrs Mpofu.