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Nkankezi Bridge repair works complete

by Staff reporter
09 Jul 2017 at 07:39hrs | Views
REPAIRS at the Cyclone Dineo destroyed Nkankezi Bridge in Insiza district, Matabeleland South Province which is along Bulawayo-Zvishavane road were completed last Wednesday and the bridge was opened to motorists on Thursday after all the finishing touches were done.

The bridge was one of the major road infrastructure destroyed by the cyclone induced rains and Government committed $700 000 towards its reconstruction as part of efforts to bring efficiency on the country's road network that is suffering from old age.

Motorists who spoke to the Sunday News expressed gratitude to the Government and its partners for making sure the project was funded and completed in a very short period of time. They said they were sceptic about the time frames when it was reported by this paper at the beginning of reconstruction in early June that the bridge would be completed at the beginning of July.

"This is a big relief to us as motorists. You know we are used to Government projects taking longer than necessary but this one was just an exception. I think the Government should be commended for the job and it looks like it was done so well and strong. We hope all the projects will be done with the same speed as the one we witnessed on this project," said one motorist Mr Cosmas Dube.

He added that roads were part of the essential communication infrastructure and their not being in good shape retards both economic and social progress as goods, people and services wouldn't be moved from one place to another in time.

Mindful of the importance of a proficient road network in developing the country's economy, the Government released $700 000 for the reconstruction of the bridge and work started at the beginning of June.

The road links Bulawayo, Zvishavane, Masvingo and Mutare and is one of the country's major roads.

A small, old, and low bridge was repaired and opened for temporary use by buses and cars as a stop gap measure although heavy vehicles are not using it.

Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Dr Jorum Gumbo confirmed the completion and opening of the bridge to motorists on Friday.

"We have finished the repairs at the Nkankezi Bridge and we have since opened it for passage by motorists. I am particularly happy with the speed at which the project was completed. It shows a lot of seriousness on the part of Government and the contractor.

"The road is one of our major highways and is of so much economic value to the country so its continued closure to heavy vehicles was inconveniencing not only motorists but companies as well thereby affecting the economy through loss of revenue. We showed that with adequate resources we can be efficient and we call upon our partners to continue helping us achieve our desired goal of having a proficient road network," said Dr Gumbo.

He thanked Mimosa Mining Company and other partners for providing part of the funds for the bridge reconstruction. Minister Gumbo also commended the provincial road engineer Eng Dennis Mapfurira and his team for making sure the job was done timeously. He said they did a tremendous job.

Minister Gumbo said they were now focusing on the second phase of the project where his ministry was looking at seemingly abandoned roads and bridges in the whole country, some that were destroyed as far back as Cyclone Eline and other serious rains that pounded the country in the past.

He said roads such as the Bulawayo-Nkayi, Chipinge-Mwenezi and others in Binga were crying out for attention while bridges such as the one along Lutumba-Beitbridge on Bubi River and Tandavarai River close to Chegato in Mberengwa also needed repairs.

Eng Mapfurira who was on the site on Wednesday confirmed the completion of the 48-year-old bridge.

"The Nkankezi Bridge is one of our major projects in the province. We are happy that it is complete now. We are happy that we finished the work at the stipulated timeframes," said Eng Mapfurira.

He said although the bridge was not the only one that was destroyed in the province, it was the biggest project and now that it was complete they were moving to other smaller projects.

Eng Mapfurira also thanked the Government-contracted Forit Contracting for adhering to timeframes set.

House of Assembly Member for Insiza North constituency where the Nkankezi Bridge dutifully falls under Andrew Langa thanked the Government for moving with speed to ensure the bridge was repaired and completed in time to allow for free movement of people, goods and services.

He said part of the amount was raised through public private partnerships where Mimosa, Nyaradzo Funeral Parlour, FBC bank and other stakeholders pulled together resources towards the reconstruction of the bridge.

"Although the bridge is not the only one that was affected by floods in the province, it was our major priority because of its national importance and now that it is complete we are very happy and we will shift our focus on smaller projects.

"We lost a lot of infrastructure in the province and in my constituency we lost three community dams in Ward 17, Montrose Dam in Ward 19 and another in Ward 20. After the rains officials in the Government came down to assess the situation from where we think priority was given to the Nkankezi Bridge," said Langa.

He said the community was also happy as the contractor employed about 50 villagers as general hands.

Langa said communities were also working on repairing some of the damaged infrastructure in their areas such as roads, schools and dams although resources were a challenge.

Some of the infrastructure destroyed such as dams were used in sustaining the rural communities' life through provision of water for gardening and to water animals while roads that link the villages to service centres were destroyed too.

The reconstruction exercise comes in the wake of Government announcing the securing of $14,5 million for road rehabilitation as a direct response to increased road damages worsened by the rains that rendered most of the country's roads impassable.

Most of the country's roads are littered with potholes that have turned driving from the art it is to a torturous, painful and difficult exercise leading to an increase in road carnage.

Minister Gumbo said to date $14,5 million had been raised and distributed to urban and rural local authorities.

He admitted, however, that despite the historical amounts of rainfall received this year in the country that swept away bridges and created small streams on graded roads, most of the country's roads were old and crying out loud for resurfacing while most of their bridges have outlived their life span.

"Most of the country's roads are in bad state. Most tarred roads have outlived their 20-25 years lifespan. Some now have more than 60 years without being redone or resurfaced and as a result the tarmac layer has become so thin that potholes can easily form and spread," Minister Gumbo added.

He said the rains only made the problem more apparent although Government was moving with speed to ensure that the roads were put in shape.

He called on communities not to sit back and wait for the Government but to also mobilise resources and complement the Government efforts.

"We do not want our people to suffer because in such situations some unscrupulous operators take advantage and make people pay an arm and a leg because there will be no easy roads linking places. Our thrust is therefore grounded on enhancing communication and transport infrastructure in the country and we will not allow ourselves to sit back and relax when things are this bad," said Dr Gumbo.

Sunday News gathered that the Nkankezi Bridge is on route 509 and was built in 1969 by the department of roads. The type of structure is RC beams and slab and is on chainage 172,4 km along Masvingo-Mbalabala.

It has two spans measuring 18,5 metres and one span measuring 18,7 metres. The department of roads is still the responsible authority. It could not, however, not be established when the small old bridge currently being used was constructed, but authorities deemed it fit for use by motorists.

Source - zimpapers

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