The Sunday News
THE Government’s economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, which has been tailor made to set the tone into making the country attain an Upper Middle Income status by 2030, says an efficient and adequate transport system is critical for the development of the country, providing access to markets including reducing regional disparities.
The road, rail and air sub-sectors are critical in rapid industrialisation and agricultural advancement as they facilitate trade and movement of goods and people, hence, the need to rehabilitate and upgrade the current stock of assets.
The Government says Africa Development Bank and World Bank studies estimate that US$5,5 billion is needed to rehabilitate Zimbabwe’s entire road network, and final take off of road projects that have been in the pipeline for over 30 years.
Nonetheless, Treasury has started to fund road projects, continuing from the rehabilitation of roads and bridges destroyed by Cyclone Dineo in 2017.
Through the fiscus, an amount of US$252 million has already been availed to the Department of Roads for the Roads Development Programme, targeting to re-establish trafficability on all State roads across the country.
The Transitional Stabilisation Programme recognises that functional public infrastructure remains a key enabler to unlocking economic growth potential, increase competitiveness and productivity, while equipping public services to meet demand.
The Programme prioritises quick-win projects in energy, water and sanitation, ICT, housing and transport, with focus on expediting completion of ongoing infrastructure projects, that way contributing to the revival of the economy. A number of road projects are always underway across the country, a development that shows that the Government is walking the talk in as far as implementing development projects is concerned.
One such road is the Maphisa-Bulawayo road, which is being attended to. The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza has toured a number of road projects in the country.
However, Minister Matiza bemoaned the employment of unqualified people to oversee road projects.
“Employ qualified engineers to oversee road projects. Our roads should meet Sadc standards. Road carnage is claiming over 1 000 lives a year. Of course, the human factor has contributed to accidents, as well as our roads. Our roads have potholes because you employed unqualified people to oversee road construction and certify roads.”
Minister Matiza said Government wanted to see durable and high standard roads.
He warned against abusing road funds to buy luxurious vehicles and other unsanctioned uses.
Minister Matiza said the new Zinara board would monitor roads constructed to see if they met the required standards.
Road transport is an important sector of economic activity, especially in developing countries, where it plays an essential role in marketing agricultural products and providing access to health, education and agricultural inputs and extension services.
The impact of road transportation in developed regions is also significant. As an example, in the United States it accounts for 15 per cent of the Gross National Product (GNP) and 84 percent of all spending on transportation. An efficient road system gives a country a competitive edge in moving goods economically.
Conversely, lack of accessibility or poor road conditions are barriers to agriculture, industry and trade, and may hinder the entire development effort (Cesar Queiroz and Surhid Gautam, 1992).