Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Government has granted Harare City Council borrowing powers worth $30 million to enable it to buy quarry and road equipment.
In its 2016 budget, Harare set aside a total of $20 million for the purchase of an array of road maintenance equipment such as pneumatic rollers, bitumen distributors, graders, water bowsers, asphalt pavers and road marking machines but failed to purchase the items owing to financial constraints.
Speaking after a meeting with Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said he had a “progressive” meeting with the minister which centred on council issues.
“Essentially, it was about the roads crisis and some measures will be tabled including him chasing Zinara for more urgent funds and reviving the crusher station. We have received provisional approval to increase our borrowing powers to accommodate the $30 million loan request for quarry and roads equipment.
“I think city fathers will be delighted to hear that we have converged on the devolution of services to local district offices. The acting town clerk and her team will urgently work on the modalities to decentralise as many of the services as possible. This should be fast-tracked,” he said.
Clr Manyenyeni said Minister Kasukuwere had agreed to engage Zinara in a bid to unlock road maintenance funds to give a semblance of repair and maintenance to the city’s approximately 5 000 kilometres of road network.
Harare last week said it was mulling introducing a fee for road maintenance following inadequate allocations from Zinara.
Harare City Council was allocated $1,2 million for road maintenance this year, an amount it dismissed as a joke and a far-cry from its requirements.
The city said the proposed new road fee would help it maintain roads because depending on Zinara was unrealistic.
Government has also been consulting over the introduction of urban toll gates with the first targets being Harare’s Samora Machel Avenue and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo/Airport Road.
It is understood these two were picked as they are trunk roads linking central Harare and other cities and towns.
Indications are that light vehicles will be tolled either 50 cents or $1 to pass through the gates, with the fee charged via electronic tolling or a prepaid system.
Residents have however resisted the move saying Zinara should first account for money it is collecting from vehicle licences and ensure transparency in its use before Government thinks of introducing urban tollgates.