Innocent Ruwende in Chipinge
Most local authorities are not providing the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) with programmes of work and acquittals to enable disbursements of road funds, thereby delaying projects, it has emerged.
Speaking during a meeting with local authorities and road engineers on his tour of road works taking place in Manicaland Province, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza urged local authorities to do their part and complement Government efforts in rehabilitating existing roads as well as construction of new ones.
“During our campaign period, we promised our people that we were going to fix the country’s roads and we are now fulfilling that promise,” he said.
“Local authorities should understand that programmes of work and acquittals should be done to ensure timeous payment of funds. I am told that only 25 percent of road authorities have complied.
“Surely, that is not the behaviour of authorities who want their roads to be fixed.”
Minister Matiza urged road authorities to seek help from Zinara if they do not understand the system. He said he had appointed a new Zinara board to deal with bottlenecks that were hindering timeous disbursements of funds.
Minister Matiza bemoaned the employment of unqualified people to oversee road projects.
“Employ qualified engineers to oversee road projects,” he said.
“Our roads should meet SADC standards. Road carnage is claiming over 1 000 lives a year. Of course, the human factor has contributed to accidents, as well as our roads.
“Our roads have potholes because you employed unqualified people to oversee road construction and certify roads.”
Minister Matiza said Government wanted to see durable and high standard roads. He warned against abusing road funds to buy luxurious vehicles and other unsanctioned uses.
Minister Matiza said the new Zinara board would monitor roads constructed to see if they met the required standards.
Zinara finance director Mr Simon Taranhike said they allocated road authorities in Manicaland $7,5 million last year, but only $3,8 million was claimed.
“This is disappointing,” he said.
“This year, we allocated $8,9 million. The money is there. Every local authority has at least $500 000. This year our disbursement is $240 million for all road authorities.”
Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said work done so far under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme brought about a semblance of hope for road users.
“Manicaland, unlike most provinces in the country, comprises lots of steep and rugged terrain, water ways and other natural obstacles which easily impair the ability of transporters to provide services when roads are ruined from natural weather elements or from wear and tear,” she said.
“In addition to this, we are the gateway province to the eastern port of Beira.
“We, therefore, plead with Minister Matiza to make sure funding continues to be availed for the rehabilitation of our roads in Manicaland.”
Dr Gwarazimba thanked Government for awarding the rehabilitation contract for Ngundu-Tanganda Road to Bitumen World, a contractor she said had proved to be reliable and efficient.
Roads being rehabilitated in Manicaland include Ngundu-Tanganda, Murambinda-Ruangwe, Odzi-Marange-Zviripiri, Nyamangura Bridge, Mutare-Masvingo, Chivhu-Nyazura and Chiriga-Chikore.