While preparatory work on the Mbuzi interchange is progressing with the upgrading or construction of diversion roads, motorists are impatient for construction to start.
Few realise the enormous complexity and intricate design needed for what will be a major civil engineering works.
An interchange is far more complex than a bridge carrying a road over a railway line, something that works to take one main road over another without delays. But such a road interchange also needs to be designed to allow traffic to turn left, which is not much of a problem, and turn right without facing oncoming traffic, and that is where the real engineering starts.
It is the need for uninterrupted right turns, and the traffic patterns at Mbuzi that make this critical, and that make an interchange a collection of bridges and undercuts and which adds so much to the complexity of the civil engineering. This has to be firmly rooted to the bedrock to avoid future safety problems.
Everyone now agrees on the interchange and the necessary financial modalities have been put in place. But it is not an instant piece of engineering and congestion is likely to worsen during construction even with the major effort now being done on the diversion roads.
Motorists say that although the deployment of police traffic officers at the worst times to control the crossing has been at times helpful, driving past the roundabout has become a nightmare for many.
Besides the sheer congestion, other factors make everything a lot worse. Pirate taxis, kombis and private vehicles park too close to the roundabout along the roads loading passengers and making it impossible for cars to pass through easily. The fact that Simon Mazarodze Road is also the main Harare-Masvingo highway means that heavy long-distance haulage trucks are mixing with the urban traffic.
Mr Leeroy Chigogo of Glen Norah said: “Everyday cars will be locked and the situation gets worse when there are no police officers controlling traffic especially when it’s raining. One would take at least more than two hours to negotiate the roundabout,” he said.
Another motorist Mr Takudzwa Manyande said there was also need to get rid of pirate taxis that load passengers near the roundabout as this was also fuelling congestion.
“Most of these pirate taxis and kombis would be parked in the middle of the road and this also contributes to congestion as motorists take longer to negotiate through them,” he said.
Mrs Charlene Mureverwi of Glen View said driving through the roundabout was now very difficult and something needed to be done to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
In November last year, the construction of Mbudzi interchange moved a gear up with a contractor currently undertaking geotechnical engineering, which involves taking soil and rock samples to ascertain the strength of materials to be used during the foundation stages.
There were some notable progress as Mars Geotechnical laboratory officials subcontracted by TEFOMA Joint Venture were taking soil and rock samples.
The section of the road servitude along Chitungwiza road was totally cleared with illegal shacks having been removed while vendors that used to sell goats had vacated the area.
All illegal shacks surrounding the place that used to house the leader of the tiny Zimbabwe Industrial and Technological Revolutionary Party, Daniel Chingoma, were also cleared, although his full size model helicopter was still there.
Works on detour roads were progressing with demolition of illegal structures that encroached the roads continuing smoothly. Broken down vehicles around Mbudzi roundabout area were also being towed away.
Harare provincial roads engineer Arthurton Zindoga was quoted saying the geotechnical engineering process was the initial stage of the project.
Engineer Zindoga said the remaining shacks dotted around Mbudzi roundabout would be cleared.
Mbudzi roundabout is at the intersection of Simon Mazorodze, Chitungwiza and High Glen Roads that feed traffic from western Chitungwiza and many old and new suburbs into Harare city centre as well as the heavy national and regional traffic on the Harare-Masvingo highway.
In recent years, the roundabout has seen traffic logjams especially during peak hours.