Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and his Transport and Infrastructural Development counterpart Dr Joram Gumbo have engaged over the tiff between local authorities and the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) on the amounts the latter disburses for road maintenance.
Local authorities, especially the City of Harare, have bitterly complained that Zinara does not allocate them adequate funds to maintain roads despite “collecting millions” from motorists through vehicle licence discs.
Minister Kasukuwere said he expected to resolve the squabbles with Dr Gumbo.
“We will resolve the issues in terms of what our local authorities expect and the national expectations that Zinara too has,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
“I have been engaging with Dr Gumbo and have no doubt that we will ensure that an amicable resolution is achieved that will serve both parties well. We are committed to see an improved road network in both our state roads and local authorities,” he said.
Dr Gumbo took a swipe at local authorities for making noise about Zinara funds yet they had nothing to show for the money that they had received from the roads administration parastatal.
“I am in agreement with Minister Kasukuwere that we want to make sure that our roads are in good shape both in local authorities and our major highways,” said Dr Gumbo.
“Zinara is equally committed to this national goal, but where I have an issue is with some local authorities that are making noise about Zinara disbursements, particularly City of Harare. They say Zinara gives them inadequate money, about $1 million per quarter. But what do they have to show for that little money that they have received? Can they show us one road that they have maintained or patched up using the money that they have received?” he said.
“I have been to Mufakose, Kambuzuma, Highfield and Mabvuku and the roads have potholes all over. Where are they putting the money that they have been receiving from Zinara?
“They have also been collecting money for parking from motorists in the city, what are they doing with that money? They should show us one road that they have patched up using that money.
“If you look at Bulawayo, which is the best run local authority in terms of its roads, they have managed to maintain their roads using the little money that they get from Zinara but what has Harare done?”
Dr Gumbo said Zinara was collecting less than $150 million per year, with a huge chunk of it going towards repayment of the loan for the widening and patching up of the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare highway.
He said Zinara disbursed funds according to an Act of Parliament that established it, which is that it should equitably disburse funds to all the country’s local authorities.
“If the money that they get is properly managed and correctly used for its purpose, we should be able to see a difference on our roads. But at the moment, there are potholes all over, which makes us think the money is being misappropriated. By the way, all they have to do is patching, but we seem not to see what they are doing with the money,” he said.
“It is also important for local authorities such as Harare to get into public-private partnerships (PPPs) instead of wanting to rely on Zinara because it will never have sufficient funds.
“Look at what Kwekwe City Council has done. They have gone into a PPP and constructed a state-of-the-art bus terminus because they thought outside the box.
“That is what local authorities such as Harare should do, not this tendency of wanting to rely on Zinara, which they know cannot afford to give them the money they want because the source is constrained,” said Dr Gumbo.
Harare City Council mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni recently lashed out at Zinara saying it should take the responsibility of maintaining roads in the city since it collected money from the sale of vehicle licence discs.