Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE highway fencing funded by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) to prevent livestock from straying onto the highway between Gweru and Ntabazinduna has been vandalised.
In 2017, the TSCZ funded the erecting of a boundary fence on both sides of the highway between Gweru and Ntabazinduna at a cost of US$320 000.
The boundary fence has been cut in many sections by thieves and the cattle and donkeys are back on the highway thereby posing a danger to motorists.
A Chronicle news crew observed that in many sections, the fence has been removed completely hence the cattle and donkeys are back on the highway.
The people living along the highway have blamed people coming from far away places for the theft. They say people vandalising the boundary fence operate at night and as such it was difficult to apprehend them.
The locals said they could not destroy the boundary fence because it was benefiting them as it prevented their cattle and donkeys from straying on the highway.
TSCZ acting director of operations research and marketing Mr Earnest Muchena said it was worrying that some sections of the fencing have been destroyed by thieves stealing the fence.
TSCZ funded the boundary highway fencing between Gweru and Ntabazinduna. We actually engaged communities living along the highway to do the work. Unfortunately we have noted with concern that some sections of the fence have been removed by thieves.
We would like to appeal to members of the public to ensure that they do not destroy national infrastructure especially this highway fence which was erected to reduce accidents caused by stray livestock,” said Mr Muchena.
He said communities should take ownership of projects that benefit them.
Mr Muchena said TSCZ has already engaged the police over the matter.
“We would like to appeal to members of the community to guard jealously infrastructure that benefits them. We have engaged the ZRP to investigate and arrest the culprits as we believe they are in the communities. We asked the locals who erected the fence to assist in identifying the stolen fence,” said Mr Muchena.
Chief Ndondo from Mbembesi said it was disappointing that the fence meant to protect their livestock has been vandalised.
“When the fence was erected, I held a function with my community to celebrate the good work but our celebrations were shortlived as thieves started cutting the fence just weeks after it was erected.
We are losing a lot of livestock which is being killed on the roads and those vandalising the fence are not from this area because the locals appreciate the benefits of this fence. We suspect people from the resettlement areas are the ones coming to steal the fence because it is not their cattle that are killed on the highway,” he said.
Chief Ndondo said he believes the same people stealing their livestock are also vandalising the fence.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said highway accidents involving motorists hitting stray livestock are on the increase.
“It is unfortunate that people are stealing or vandalising highway boundary fence meant to prevent livestock from straying onto the highways. The locals should assist the police to apprehend these vandals because it is their cattle or donkeys that are killed when they stray onto the highway, said Ass Comm Nyathi.
He also said there is need for community leaders to engage their communities so that they come up with strategies of protecting the boundary fence. — @nqotshili