Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
The ongoing upgrade of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway into a modern road by the Second Republic has now seen a total of 370km being opened to traffic, with many other roads being reconstructed countrywide.
Government continues to make progress in the rehabilitation of the country’s roads under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase 2.
The 2023 national Budget announced recently ensures momentum is maintained, with key infrastructure such as the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway upgrade and construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and the Bulawayo pipeline having been allocated $1,1 trillion as the Government moves to accelerate their completion and drive sustainable economic growth and development.
Presenting the national Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, said the allocation will prioritise on-going and stalled projects.
Of the overall support towards the transport sector next year amounting to $194,8 billion, a massive $177,4 billion is earmarked for roads, with $13,4 billion for airports and $4 billion for rail systems. In the rehabilitation of the country’s roads, focus is not only on arterial highways, but also those in suburbs that were abandoned by opposition-run councils for years.
The Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway is the centrepiece of the road programme and even then will be matched by the Chirundu-Harare Highway, to form Zimbabwe’s 897km Chirundu-Beitbridge section of the TransAfrica Highway of 10 228km beginning in Cape Town and ending in Cairo.
Five local companies were contracted to upgrade the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway: Tensor Systems, Masimba Holdings, Fossil Contracting, Exodus & Company and Bitumen World.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development confirmed that 370km have now been opened to traffic on their Twitter handle yesterday.
According to the ministry, on the Harare-Bindura Road rehabilitation, surfacing with asphalt concrete is still in progress in a bid to increase the kilometres of good road network, while surfacing and road markings are also in progress on the Marondera-Hwedza Road.
Recently, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona toured Luveve Road in Bulawayo to assess the damage on the road.
He emphasised that the work ethic of the Second Republic was to hear what the people want and to leave no one and no place behind.
Minister Mhona promised that the rehabilitation of all damaged roads will be done as soon as possible.
Zimbabwe Passenger Transporters Organisation chairman Dr Sam Nanhanga applauded Government for the rehabilitation programme, saying it will go a long way in ensuring road safety and curbing carnage.
“We really appreciate the good work that Government is doing in ensuring that we have good road networks countrywide,” he said.
Dr Nanhanga was particularly keen on the completion of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway, considering its critical role.
“We would also want to advocate for the government to also look into the issue of railway lines rehabilitation,” he said.
“The rehabilitation of railway lines is also cheaper and also that other goods would be transported by railway.”
Bus operator Mr Absolom Muyambiri, who is the owner of Bless It Up Motors, said he has operated the Harare-Beitbridge Highway for almost 12 years now and that the road had been a death trap.
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“I am happy that Government under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme took a stance to ensure that we have a good road network to operate from,” he said.
“The safety of passengers can now be guaranteed and even drivers can easily avoid accidents if they are to happen since we now have wider and good roads.”
Mr Muyambiri warned motorists not to get excited about such a development and then violate traffic rules and regulations, especially speeding during this festive season, to avoid road accidents.
On taming road carnage, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga recently said, “As the 2022 festive season beckons, road safety campaigns should also be prioritised.
“Police officers need to do more campaigns with the view to tame the traffic chaos which is being caused by errand motorists who disregard road rules and regulations. In this regard, you need to engage and work with the Vehicle Inspection Department, Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and other relevant stakeholders.”
Over 2 000km of roads have been re-gravelled, while 6 627,9km have been graded with 701 drainage structures constructed or repaired and 184 wash-aways reclaimed.
Across the country, 4 491,5km of drains have been opened, while 6 141,2km of verges have been cleared with progress continuing to be made on the patching of potholes with a cumulative of 4 794,8km having been attended to.