Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
SEVERAL roads in Bulawayo are riddled with potholes making them death traps following the onset of the rainy season, a development that has exposed the city council for doing a shoddy job in terms of rehabilitation of roads.
As a stop gap measure, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) resorted to filling the potholes with sand. However, following the recent downpours recorded in the city in the past week, the sand has been washed away resulting in potholes being exposed.
The council has said most of its roads have outlived their lifespan and requires US$700 million to rehabilitate them.
Last year, there was significant progress in the rehabilitation of the city’s roads under the Government-funded Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP 2) with Siyephambili Drive, George Avenue and 23rd Avenue being some of the major roads rehabilitated.
Government introduced the ERRP 2 programme last year to attend to the country’s road network which had been seriously damaged by the rains.
As a result, Bulawayo was allocated $1 billion towards the emergency roads rehabilitation.
Treasury, this year tightened payouts to Government-funded projects after observing that some of the contractors were inflating prices and fuelling black market rates.
A Chronicle news crew drove around the city and observed that major roads leading to the city centre such as Luveve, Khami, Old Khami and Matopos roads are now riddled with potholes making it difficult for motorists to navigate.
Parts of Matopos Road leading to Montrose suburb are in a bad state. Some roads in the city centre are also in a bad state with accidents likely to occur as motorists try to avoid the bad sections of the roads.
BCC acting director of engineering services Engineer Sikhumbuzo Ncube said council is aware of the terrible state of the city’s roads.
He said the local authority was working towards an emergency plan to fill up the potholes.
“We are in the process of mobilising resources so that we buy tar and start patching the potholes. However, we are very aware that the situation on our roads is not good. Once we secure funds, we will address this issue of our roads,” said Eng Ncube.
He said council is also in negotiations with some of the suppliers to provide materials in advance to enable work on the rehabilitation of the roads to begin.
Eng Ncube said council is working on the budget which will enable council to immediately attend to some of the potholes.
“Previously, we had covered the potholes using sand so that the roads could be trafficable, but since it has started raining, it gets washed away,” he said.
Eng Ncube said due to funding challenges, some of the roads that had been allocated to contractors under ERRP2 have not been attended to.
Residents called on the local authority to urgently attend to the roads as they have become death traps.
A kombi driver plying the City-Luveve route, Mr Moreblessing Dube, said there is a need for council to attend to the roads as a matter of urgency.
“Some of us spend most of our time on the roads because of the nature of our jobs. The bad state of the roads is increasingly making it difficult for motorists to follow the road regulations because you have to navigate through potholes,” he said.
“Recently, we had police and the Zimbabwe National Road Administration doing spot checks to establish if we are paying vehicle licenses. We urge council to address this issue before lives are lost, particularly now that we are in the wet season.”
Another motorist, Mrs Nontokozo Gumbo of Pumula South suburb, said some of the potholes have become a danger to motorists.
“There is a need to seriously attend to the potholes. Some of us have even diverted our routes just to avoid these potholes, which are now a deadly hazard on our roads. I usually use Khami Road because it is less congested, but because of potholes, I have since resorted to driving along Old Khami Road,” she said.–@nqotshili