Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Government departments have started following through on cooperation agreements entered with Belarus for the supply of heavy duty equipment in a bid to improve the state of the country’s roads.
The agreements follow Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to the eastern European country in July 2015, which was reciprocated by envoys to that country’s leader in November of the same year.
President Mugabe gave his nod to the agreement on the same day.
A delegation of road authorities is expected to visit that country next week to look for equipment that can assist in road maintenance.
This comes amid revelation that more than 60 percent of Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) disbursements are going towards equipment hire.
The remainder is then directed towards road maintenance and rehabilitation works.
Zinara board chairperson Mr Albert Mugabe said the opportunity had been extended to all road authorities.
He was speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting for road authorities in Chinhoyi on Monday to gather input into strategic plans for 2017.
“Belarus has a reputation of making heavy duty machinery and equipment, including road rebuilding equipment under terms that are favourable. We have extended the invitation to road authorities, including councils,” said Mr Mugabe.
The delegation will comprise officials from the District Development Fund and the Department of Roads in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
Mr Mugabe said the situation was untenable as fewer resources were going towards the actual maintenance of roads, which have become riddled with potholes.
“It is a terrible anomaly which we seek to address by getting equipment from Belarus,” he said. “However, if there are any suggestions from local authorities on where we can get equipment under better terms, so be it.”
The country has had to adopt the Look East Policy to circumvent illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West following the land reform programme.
Under the agreements, companies from Belarus will bring in mining, farming and road rebuilding equipment, including tractors and dump trucks, while the companies will build service centres in the country.
These are expected to create employment for locals.
The initial agreement will see Zimbabwe buying equipment worth between $120 and $150 million.
In a bid to effectively monitor the use of funds disbursed by Zinara to councils, Mr Mugabe said provincial teams, including the provincial managers, engineers and auditors were being dispatched.
“We are aware that we have not carried out the monitoring and auditing function effectively to see how money disbursed has been used and the quality of work,” he said. “As such, we conducted interviews last week for people who will not only do financial audits, but also engineering audits.”
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said councils that perennially fail to account for disbursed funds should not get the money, but Zinara should engage a contractor to do the work.