The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE Government has identified more roads for rehabilitation in Bulawayo under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) as it moves to fix deteriorating urban infrastructure in the MDC-run local authorities.
The development comes amid more potholes caused by the rains with motorists having a torrid time navigating their way into the Central Business District (CBD). The situation is worse in residential areas. Of note, most of the roads that are in good shape in the city are those that have been repaired under the Government-funded programme.
In a tacit admission of lack of capacity, the Bulawayo City Council has been saying that over 75 percent of its road network was in need of urgent rehabilitation at a cost of US$700 million, a situation which saw Government rolling up its sleeves and extending a hand through the President Mnangagwa initiated nationwide ERRP.
The Government has set aside $33,6 billion for the second phase of the ERRP, after the declaration of the country’s road network a state of disaster in February last year. Most of the roads had become untrafficable following damage by heavy rains that were received across the country and lack of maintenance from local authorities.
In Bulawayo, 65 major roads were earmarked for rehabilitation under the facility at an estimated cost of $625 million. The facility thus saw the rehabilitation of a number of roads in the city, the major one being Masiyephambili that was given a complete overhaul.
According to the latest council report, the Government has already identified road projects that will be embarked on this year. These projects will be funded through the ERRP and another Government-instituted programme under the devolution funds.
The council has said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development will take care of ten additional roads in the city this year, while council will use the large chunk of funds from the government arm, Zimbabwe National Roads Authority to repair roads as well.
“The Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) allocation for the year 2022 is ZWL$288 million, the department of engineering services intends to spend 70 percent (ZWL$202 million) of the allocation on periodic maintenance works that is reconstruction, overlays and reseals and the remaining 30 percent (ZWL$86 million) on routine maintenance that is pothole patching, crack sealing and slurry sealing.
The ERRP2 allocation for the year 2022 was yet to be advised. It was, however, noted that a total of 10 roads, critical to the city had been requested by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development for 2022 budget purposes,” reads the council report.
Under ERRP, the city will see 25.8 kilometres of the road network being rehabilitated and these include Ndaba Road, Catherine Berry Drive, Nkulumane Drive, Glenville Drive, Lobengula Street, Renkini streets (Walsall, Woodbury and Wingrove roads), Chinamano Road, Netherby Road, Woodvile Road and Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle (new construction).
Under the Government’s roads arm, Zinara, funds will be channelled towards the overlaying of Fairbridge Way (Philips Drive to Cecil Avenue) Huggins Road (Luveve Road to Police), Woodville Park Road (Harare Road to the first curve), Luveve 5 roads, Maduma Drive (Intemba to SJ Ngwenya shops) while Murchison Road (Scone to Adair Drive) will see the reconstruction of the existing pavement and surfacing.
On yet another Government instituted facility- devolutions funds- ZWL$442 million has been budgeted for road works, which will go towards the construction of a new 1,1 kilometre road in Cowdray Park, Nkulumane Drive between Agogo Road and Clinic, McNellie/ Redstone/ Hill/ Kabot Drive sections, Mpilo Hospital Road, Dundee /Lancaster roads, St Albans/ Balley Road, Local streets in high density suburbs at 2,5 kilometres per ward and Bristol Road North and South.
However, as for the projects to be hundred percent embarked on by BCC, the local authority notes that it was in the process of applying for borrowing powers and credit lines to the amount of US$10 million to be directed towards roads rehabilitation.
In a breakdown of the US$10 million it requires, the local authority said it was looking at decongestion and public lighting improvement (US$2,9 million), roads rehabilitation (US$3 million) and new constructions (US$5 million).
Commenting on the state of the city roads and the input that the President Mnangagwa-led Second Republic has had in reviving the state of the country’s roads, Bulawayo United Residents Association (Bura) chairperson Mr Winos Dube said the time had come for the local authority to take a cue from Government and work on infrastructural development. He said BCC should catch up and come up with a clear road rehabilitation programme that would not end on paper but would be implemented like what was being done under the ERRP.
“It has been long that as residents we have raised this issue of the state of our roads that when we saw the President intervening, we were excited. We were further excited when we saw actual work in rehabilitating the road infrastructure taking place.
“This really shows that the Second Republic is walking the talk, all the promises they made are coming to fruition and as residents we are happy. We are really proud and are following this programme with a lot of interest and getting a lot of satisfaction,” said Mr Dube.
He added that council had to attend to its roads in residential areas.
“Now they have to be addressing those roads within the suburbs which are impassable especially now during the rainy season. They have to move at the same pace as Government, so that our road infrastructure is addressed,” said Mr Dube.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) coordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu echoed Mr Dube’s sentiments saying it was as if the engineering services department- which is tasked with road rehabilitation- did not exist at all at council.
“The department is just obscure, there is nothing happening at all in terms of roads rehabilitation, just look at the statistics of accidents that were caused by potholes, some people actually died because of these potholes.
What is disappointing is that people actually pay rates, it is now similar to the water situation where they pay for water and then get dirty water in their tapes. To be frank the standards of service delivery in Bulawayo have gone down,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Commenting on the issue, the city’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Mlandu Ncube said one of their major drawbacks was that they had no revenue stream that was directly meant for road rehabilitation.
“As council we have ward programmes to patch potholes but I must admit that it is rather on the slow side. The reason for this is that we have no direct funding to deal with road rehabilitation therefore we are tapping into other revenue streams.
We are hopeful that the parking management system will be completed soon which will see us having funds that can be directly used for road rehabilitation,” said Clr Ncube.