Legislators slam road admin authority, urge quality prioritisation

Mlondolozi Ndlovu for Khuluma Afrika

MPS from Manicaland have slammed shoddy road constructions by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) before ordering the authority to prioritise quality when attending to the country’s deplorable roads

This came out as Zinara has allocated over $5 million for road rehabilitation and maintenance in the eastern region in a bid to revamp the dilapidated road network in the province.

However, MPs within the province lamented that the funds were too meagre to address the deplorable state of the roads in the province.

The legislators also raised concerns over the quality of road maintenance, which they said was below standard and easily get damaged.

This, they argued was a strain on the national budget as government will be allocating funds to carry out the same job every year.

“We acknowledge that Zinara has set aside something aside to rehabilitate roads in our province, because they have become a dead threat to motorists. But my worry is that the money that you have released is not enough compared to toll fees paid by motorists. Where is the rest of the money going? You introduced tollgates in order to make our roads world standard but several years later, we are still waiting to see that miracle,” said Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba.

Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka also raised similar raised concerns.

“Why is it that you repair roads today and tomorrow they are in the same state they were before? Is it a matter of the quality of product that you are using or a question of your staff that is incompetent? Whatever the case, please clean up your mess. You cannot continue to pour funds to do the same job every year. That’s an outright disservice to the motorists who are paying toll fees. 

“When you attend to roads, prioritise quality. These roads that we are using were built in the colonial era and we are still using them today. The Mutare-Harare road was just worked on but it’s already depreciating,” he said.

The sentiments were echoed by a cross-section of motorists who spoke to this reporter.

Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said their annual funds allocation is limited by what they collect from tollgates.

He indicated that they have been unable to collect more than $150 million per annum.

“It is not a secret that most of our road network has outlived its useful lifespan and we would need to expend approximately more than $5 billion to rehabilitate the country’s roads. But the revenue that Zinara is mobilising, which is less than $200 million per annum is not sufficient to cover the maintenance backlog. Infact, we have not surpassed the $150 million record annual collection of toll fees. 

“The bigger chunk of this amount pays off the Harare-Mutare road debt and that of the tollgate plaza there. And we will be paying off this debt for the next seven years. This is why we are urging Road Authorities to pursue other innovative strategies such as Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) where applicable and mobilisation of funds from local financial institutions,” he said. 

Zinara allocated $500,000 for the rehabilitation of a 10 kilometre tar from Rusape to Nyanga, and the same figure for another 10 km stretch on Tanganda Road. Also, the Murambinda to Birchenough Bridge road will receive $187,500. 

Rusape was also allocated $106,571 to spruce up roads in the Central Business District, Mabvazuwa and Maungwe residential areas while Mutare was allocated $487,000 to rehabilitate Hebert Chitepo, Blessing Makunike and Aerodrome roads.

Chipinge received $209,000 to attend to Fifth and 7th road.

Gumbo further revealed that $690,000 has been set aside for the Department of Roads, while $2,3 million is reserved for Buhera, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Makoni, Mutare, Mutasa and Nyanga rural district councils.

Chipinge, Mutare and Rusape urban councils were allocated close to $130,000