Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
WORK on the rehabilitation of the 158km Bulawayo-Nkayi Road has resumed following the disbursement of funds by Government for the project as the Second Republic steps up efforts towards completing outstanding major projects in Matabeleland North Province.
Developing sound road infrastructure is one of the critical enablers towards achieving set targets under the National Development Strategy (NDS1), the Government’s five-year economic master plan, which spans from 2021 through to year 2025.
The Bulawayo-Nkayi Road had become untrafficable and a death trap. So far, only a stretch of about 50km has been widened and tarred over the years with the remainder of the road linking Turk Mine and Inyathi area in Bubi District up to Nkayi Centre yet to be worked on.
Under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, Government is scaling up rehabilitation of major roads across the country and Nkayi Road is one of them.
The rehabilitation of Bulawayo-Nkayi Road is among the top priority projects in the province and has been allocated significant amounts of money to expedite progress in the 2023 National Budget.
According to the 2023 National Budget statement presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, Treasury allocated $470 billion for Matabeleland North priority infrastructure projects which include the Nkayi-Bulawayo Road construction, which was allocated $1,5 billion.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development allocates a budget for the rehabilitation of 15km annually and so far more than 40km has been covered.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited the stretch under rehabilitation and observed contractors on site and busy working on re-gravelling the road.
The 15km stretch leading to Badala Business Centre in Inyathi in Bubi District is being widened and detours have been created and extended from Turk Mine.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona last month revealed that the rehabilitation of the road was imminent and contractors had been paid to resume work.
At the time, he said the contractor was mobilising road rehabilitation equipment.
Government has said the upgrading of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road is a top priority as it responds to stakeholder concern that the project has taken too long to complete after it was started in 1993 with an initial completion date set for 1999.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said the rehabilitation of the road speaks to Second Republic’s commitment to addressing infrastructure challenges.
“The contractor is now on the ground and this speaks to the promises that President Mnangagwa made to the communities. Bulawayo-Nkayi and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho are some of the roads that President Mnangagwa pledged to rehabilitate when he came into power,” he said.
“We continue to see the Government channelling resources towards the rehabilitation of the road which is in the hearts of many people in the region. We want to thank the President for fulfilling his electoral promises of bringing development to our communities.”
Nkayi South legislator Cde Stars Mathe commended Government for resuming the road works.
“We are happy that the road construction has resumed after Government released funds from the budget that was allocated in the 2022 National Budge. We are optimistic that the 15km stretch which is supposed to be rehabilitated will be completed this time around,” she said.
Bulawayo-Nkayi Road is viewed as an economic enabler and connects Bubi, Nkayi, and Kwekwe districts.
The road rehabilitation programme is said to have created at least 20 000 jobs and contributed to improved economic activities in the construction sector country wide. — @nqotshili