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Bulawayo roads a 'state of disaster'

by Staff reporter
19 Mar 2020 at 06:19hrs | Views
BULAWAYO'S roads are deteriorating at an alarming pace due to lack of maintenance, with council saying it cannot raise the required US$700 million to rehabilitate the city's 2 100km road network.

Most roads are full of potholes which are seriously damaging cars, saddling owners with huge repair bills and in some cases leading to deadly accidents. A survey conducted by The Chronicle revealed that the recent rains have worsened the already bad state of roads.

Streets in the Central Business District, once well maintained, have also fallen victim to neglect. Last month, council filled some of the potholes in the CBD with gravel, but the problem remains.

Khami Road near Ingwebu Breweries is one of the city's roads that has been severely damaged, in some instances, motorists nearly collide while trying to navigate the road filled with potholes.

Pictures from around Bulawayo depicting the terrible state of the city's roads Siyepambili Drive was rehabilitated up to Emakhandeni suburb's traffic lights-controlled intersection but the road is in bad shape from there up to Victoria Falls Road.

The news crew observed that the local authority has opted to cover potholes on that road with gravel.  

Along 12 Avenue Extension, the road is also partially rehabilitated up to Leeside Shops but beyond that it is full of potholes that are partially patched making it difficult for most motorists to navigate.  The situation is worse for most roads leading to residential areas.

In some suburbs, residents have taken it upon themselves to fill potholes using sand and rubble. In 2017, the BCC conducted a road audit which concluded that 70 percent of the city's road network is in poor state. The audit revealed that the road network has outlived its lifespan by between 15 to 20 years.

Residents and motorists who spoke to the news crew yesterday said council should fix the city's road. Mr Moses Phiri, from Parklands suburb who was driving along St Davids Road, arguably one of the worst roads in the city, said council has not attended to the road in the past four years. He said vehicles are damaged by the dilapidated roads.

A pirate taxi operator, Mr Lawrence Gozho, said the bad road network was reducing the lifespan of their vehicles. He said Government should ensure that taxes collected by road authorities are channeled towards road rehabilitation.

"These days it's raining the potholes would be filled with water and its difficult notice them and we have recorded several accidents caused by this," he said. Another motorist, Mr George Chipaumire, said the bad road network contributes to extra costs.  

"We buy car spares in foreign currency and at the moment it is very expensive to service our cars. We appeal to responsible authorities to fix the roads because some of us are in the transport business and we are taking much longer to travel shorter distances due to the bad road network," said Mr Chipaumire.

BCC senior public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said while council admits that the city's roads need urgent rehabilitation, it does not have the required funds to do the work.  

"The City of Bulawayo requires an estimated US$700 million to bring the road network to a good condition, and to a relatively modest road system. To increase the number of roads in good or better condition by 15 percent (360km) in the next five years, a minimum level of investment of US$15 million per annum is required," said Mrs Mpofu.

She said the gap between road maintenance and funding is leading to an increasingly deteriorating road network. Mrs Mpofu said the issue of prioritisation has caused the local authority to neglect most of the feeder roads.

"The City of Bulawayo formulates the annual road rehabilitation budget on the basis of a ranking obtained from the latest available Road Condition Survey and the priority is on arterial roads, collector roads, the central business district roads and public transport routes road," said Mrs Mpofu.

She said council was hugely dependent on Government's funding through the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) to rehabilitate the city's roads and partially from their budgeting. Mrs Mpofu said Zinara has been delaying in disbursing funds to council contributing to the local authority's failure to do comprehensive road rehabilitation works.  

"There have been some challenges in getting the Zinara funds on time. The first disbursement for 2020 was received on 10 March 2020 and the disbursements are supposed to be quarterly and are expected during the first month of each quarter. The funds were received on 10 March 2020, where they disbursed $1 506 661.50, which can purchase 1 load (30 000 litres) of bitumen at ($1 110 000), the remaining balance will be used to procure quarry dust, road marking paint and traffic sign materials," said Mrs Mpofu.  

The city's director of engineering services Engineer Simela Dube said last year Zinara disbursed $5,4 million for Bulawayo road works. "From 2020, budget for roads rehabilitation is $70 million, and for general maintenance $84 million. Programmes will however depend on financial performance of the 2020 budget," said Eng Dube. Acting Zinara chief executive officer Mr Moses Chigonyati said their 2019 budget was severely affected by inflation. He said the economic environment affected the completion of most roadworks across the city.

Source - chroncile