Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) exposed Harare City Council’s reluctance to tap into the $46.5 million allocated for road rehabilitation, including the urgent patching of potholes.
Contrary to claims by the City Council that Zinara was failing to disburse funds it is the local authority that actually delayed to submit its 2020 programme to facilitate the disbursement of the annual funds which are released in trenches quarterly. This comes at a time the state of roads in Harare is deteriorating at an alarming rate. The incessant rains have further worsened the situation.
In an exclusive interview, Zinara acting chief executive officer Engineer Moses Chigonyati said the road authority disburses money in a short space of time upon receiving the work plan.
“Harare City Council has been allocated $46 504 212. For 2020 the council has set aside $20 million for routine maintenance which will be disbursed in $5 million trenches per quarter. Routine maintenance is paid in advance.
“The rest $26 504 212 is allocated to periodic maintenance, this is paid on completion of works. As of now ZINARA is receiving the 2020 programme of works which will be used to start the disbursement process. We anticipate to have the disbursements made in a week or two,” he said.
Eng Chingonyati said as of last year Harare received all its allocated amounts $15.1 million for both routine and periodic maintenance in 2019 on time. He further clarified on the payment methods saying Zinara does not pay contractors directly, but pays council the disbursements on their account dedicated for Zinara funds only.
Prior to Engineer Chigonyati response, Harare Spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme had complained that Harare was having a hard time in accessing Zinara funds.
“Zinara has not disbursed any money to Harare for roads. We are battling to have Zinara disburse the chunk for the first quarter so far no joy in terms of funds coming our way,” he said.
Quizzed to explain if council had followed due process of accessing the funds, Mr Chideme was rather evasive but only said: “the same Zinara has not paid contractors for work done last year.”
Last year, the city officials said they targeted to repair 1 130 kilometres, but only managed a paltry 28km. When the city’s 2020 budget was presented by council’s Finance and Development Committee chairman, Councillor Luckson Mukunguma, conceded that the city’s road network was in shambles.
“The state of our roads remains deplorable and this year we managed to do only 10km of the targeted 545km, then in terms of preventive maintenance we did only 18km of the targeted 585km,” he said.
“This was largely due to the late disbursement of funds and price variations caused by distortions in the market.”