Lack of adequate funding for road agencies has negatively affected maintenance and rehabilitation of national road networks in Africa, an official has said. Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Ministry principal director Engineer Eric Gumbie yesterday said the situation had
affected socio-economic development on the continent.
He was speaking at the opening session of the African Road Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) conference that began yesterday.
“Most road networks are falling apart because of funding problems,” Eng Gumbie said.
“There is a serious backlog of funding, for example here in Zimbabwe we needed US$1,3 billion for road maintenance and rehabilitation in 2009, but only US$8 million was availed.
“This shows the serious funding gap that affects road maintenance and rehabilitation.”
Zimbabwe needs US$2 billion to maintain and rehabilitate all national roads.
Eng Gumbie, who is in charge of roads and infrastructure, said there was need for African governments to provide resources to road maintenance and rehabilitation timeously so that roads are maintained to acceptable standards.
“If you postpone maintenance, it increases the cost and the effects of neglect are serious,” he said adding the road situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated seriously around 2005.
A study carried out during that year revealed that 40 percent of national road network was generally poor.
“Our projections at that time showed that the situation was getting worse and the trend was the same all over the region and the problems of road neglect were not confined to Zimbabwe, but prevalent in other countries as well,” Eng Gumbie said.
The week-long conference hosted by Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe National Road Administration is being attended by road engineers and finance experts from Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
ARFMA was established to promote the proper management of roads and encourage public and private partnerships to provide the best conditions for the mobilisation of resources.