Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Villagers from Chiredzi South Constituency have been urged to desist from crossing flooded rivers, especially the flood-prone Chilonga Bridge. In an interview, Chiredzi South legislator Brigadier-General Kalisto Gwanetsa (Retired) said loss of life in his area could be avoided this rainy season. He said it was better for villagers to use longer routes than forcing their way through the flooded Runde River.
“This rainy season, we are likely to see Runde River being in flood since one of our supply dams Tokwe Mukosi is likely to spill. Our greatest call is for villagers and motorists not to attempt to cross this river when it’s in flood. We have witnessed many avoidable deaths at Chilonga Bridge, hence the need for everybody to excise extreme care,” said Brig-Gen Gwanetsa (Rtd).
Brig-Gen Gwanetsa (Rtd) said plans by the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe to construct an all-weather bridge on the river were on-going.
“The IDBZ has already started undertaking feasibility studies among other key project assessment programmes before the initial construction of the all-weather bridge begins,” he said.
“We are however, optimistic that a bridge would be constructed soon, hence no need for lives to be lost during this rainy season. It is my singular appeal to all villagers and visitors to my constituency to make use of a bridge at Mpapa or rather use the Ngundu-Rutenga way.”
Villagers in the constituency complained that transporters charge them exorbitant fares during the rainy season.
“It’s not that we enjoy crossing using these make shift boats, but financial challenges push us to do so,” said Mr Fibion Chauke, a villager from the constituency. We want to go via Ngundu, but the challenge is that the fares being charged by transporters are high.”
His sentiments were echoed by Ms Sethukani Hlavati, who urged Government to provide life jackets and mechanised boats if they were serious about solving cases of drowning at Chilonga Bridge.
“We want Government to avail boats with engines which we can use when crossing,” she said. “Chiredzi is about 23 kilometres from Chilonga and we can’t go via a route which is over 200km.”
Chilonga Bridge was last season submerged under water for almost five months. Government had to use a helicopter to transport medical supplies to the area after the river became flooded.