Government moves with speed to fix major highway
Leonard Ncube, [email protected]
SIGNIFICANT progress has been made in the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2) as the Second Republic walks the talk in delivering its promises.
The reconstruction of roads is an economic enabler and a driver towards the attainment of Government’s vision to achieve an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.
Government last year declared the condition of roads in the country a state of emergency following heavy rains and has been rehabilitating the road infrastructure through ERRP2 that is set to be succeeded by the Road Development Programme which is aimed at developing the country’s roads to meet world-class standards in line with Vision 2030.
The state of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road has been a cause for concern for motorists as driving along the highway had become a nightmare due to potholes and the total collapse of some stretches of the road.
Government started rehabilitating the highway, a major connector to the north-south corridor, early last month starting with badly damaged sections that are being resurfaced.
Bitumen World was contracted to repair the road.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is using funds from the ERRP 2 for the project.
From Beitbridge, the road is badly damaged around Mazunga and Makhado areas. Other sections are littered with potholes.
Between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, the whole road has become bumpy due to numerous patches and potholes.
The badly damaged stretches are between Insuza and Mbembesi River, Lupane and Fatima, and between Halfway and Gwayi. Some of the potholes have been patched.
Villagers have also helped fill some of the potholes, especially between Insuza and Mbembesi River.
Most of the potholes on the 40km stretch from Hwange to Victoria Falls which had become a nightmare have been patched.
A Chronicle news crew observed men at work on the 3km stretch between Deka River and South Mining where that section of the road has been barricaded with vehicles using a detour.
Two more detours have been created on the other side of the Deka River while the section that is yet to be attended to is the section near Cinderella in Hwange where the road has been badly damaged and a bridge across a stream collapsed.
While the stretch between Cross Jotsholo and Insuza has not been fixed, workmen are busy cutting trees from Jotsholo towards Lupane in preparation for the start of road works.
Driving between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls was now taking about eight hours when it used to take between four and six hours.
In an interview yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said a total of 60km of the road between Beitbridge and Victoria Falls will be reconstructed as they was badly damaged while other sections will be patched or maintained.
“The listening President, Cde Mnangagwa after hearing concerns of the motoring public using the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria highway directed that I move with speed in rehabilitating the road,” he said.
“Recently we were in Hwange relaying the message to the people of Zimbabwe and I am so delighted that the Second Republic is walking the talk. Over 60km of reconstruction of the damaged sections of that particular road has been done and routine maintenance of the entire road is in progress.”
Minister Mhona said he is happy with the work that is being done under the ERRP2 and urged the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) to prioritise funding of some roads under the same programme.
Zinara has since allocated $41 billion to various road authorities including councils, for the maintenance of road infrastructure countrywide, with over $11 billion disbursed between January and April.
The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road is crucial to the country’s growth as it provides an interconnector to the North-South corridor via Beitbridge, arguably the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa.
The road is used by tourists entering the country from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said the state of the road network in the province was deplorable and needed urgent attention.
He said work being done on the road will have a positive impact on the province’s economy.
“Yes, the road is being attended to as the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa promised. The road rehabilitation is underway as some sections are being redone and patched, but the plan is to do the whole road so that it conforms to international standards,” he said.
“We would like to thank the President and people are seeing his work.”
Tourism guides, under the banner of the Zimbabwe Tourism Guides Association (ZTGA) in Victoria Falls, are also repairing damaged sections of the Victoria Falls-Kazungula Road where they are patching potholes.
The road had become littered with potholes and was impassable.
ZTGA heeded President Mnangagwa’s call for the private sector to partner Government in terms of infrastructure development and mobilised resources to rehabilitate the road that links the tourism city to Botswana.
The guides are working with Lunyalalo Trust and Vapositori for Economic Development and Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
Initially, the ZTGA intended to rehabilitate the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road from Cross Mabale in Hwange to Victoria Falls and then to Kazungula border with Botswana.