Victoria Ruzvidzo Business Focus —
The state of the roads in Harare and Zimbabwe in general has ceased to be funny. It is no longer an issue of social media jokes but one that is real, requiring urgent attention.
Most of the roads into and out of the city centre and in all suburbs and industrial sites in Harare have become impassable the city council should just put a sign on all roads which says “Enter at your own risk”.
It has become a real nightmare to navigate most parts of the city and everyone is better off investing in off-road trucks if they relish to make a decent trip from point A to point B. Yet such vehicles are meant for remote areas but in this could one is wiser and displays real foresight and eyesight if they buy one to take them to work in the central business district.
Anyone not familiar with these roads would naturally recommend that I be taken to a psychiatrist for recommending such cars for city centres but I will be vindicated the minute they see what I am talking about.
Many vehicles have had their tyres damaged and replacing them is a huge cost. Personally I have had four tyres damaged in the past two months. I do understand why former Stanbic Bank CEO Pindi Nyandoro sued the city council all the way to the bank for hitting a pothole. She got a cool $6 000 or thereabouts for it.
A country’s infrastructure reflects on its current state and future potential. Why do we let out roads, a very basic infrastructure for investment purposes, degenerate to such deplorable levels. This is not on.
Harare, and Zimbabwe in its entirety, is in the queue for investment and roads are the most basic and yet so critical infrastructure. Investors, entrepreneurs and even ordinary people going about their business, need to move freely and timeously from place to place. And when this basic requirement is not provided, business becomes difficult to run.
The Zimbabwe National Roads Authority and city, town and rural councils need to work in sync to improve the state of the roads. Too much bickering, fights for resources between Zinara and City of Harare for instance, do not aid the collective cause. We need to move with an understanding of what we want to achieve as a country. Development can only be achieved if we all pull in the same direction.
Naturally, the $1,2 million given to Harare alone is grossly inadequate. Such figures need to be revisited. That said, does the city council fall so short in problem-solving skills. I am sure innovative and creative ways to remedy the situation can be adopted to mitigate the budgetary constraints they face.
This era is about thinking not outside the box but away from the box.
According to the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) flagship infrastructure report on Zimbabwe – the “Infrastructure and Growth in Zimbabwe” report published in 201 – of the country’s total road network of nearly 90 000 kilometres, the proportion in fair to good condition has declined from 73 percent in 1995 to only 60 percent.
An additional 12 800km was re-classified to “poor condition”, requiring complete rehabilitation at a cost of about $1,1 billion.
However, this picture has changed completely six years down the line. The roads are in a worse state I am sure the fair to good proportion has declined from 60 percent to 9 percent.
Research shows that there are 88 100km of classified roads in Zimbabwe, 17 400km of which are paved.
About 5 percent of the network is classified as primary roads and has some of the most trafficked arterials that link Zimbabwe with its neighbours. A portion of the Pan-Africa Highway passes through Zimbabwe.
This part of the road network plays a critical role in the movement of the country’s imports and exports as well as transit freight.
Some 14 percent of the network is classified as secondary roads that link the main economic centres within the country, enabling internal movement of people and goods.
The primary and secondary roads are collectively referred to as the trunk road system; they carry over 70 percent of the vehicular traffic. At least 70 percent of the network is made up of tertiary feeder and access roads that link rural areas to the secondary road network.
Therefore, failure to maintain these roads has a huge bearing on socio-economic development. It contributes to a country’s failure to achieve certain results or attain certain goals that it already has the potential to achieve.
Of course we have seen some major roads in this country get a facelift while other projects are about to begin but the lethargic attitude or seeming procrastination is quite costly to the economy.
This year promises to yield better results for the economy. As I stated last week, the good rains are quite curative for an economy that has faced dry seasons for a long time. The ripple effect of a performing agriculture sector will certainly augur well for the economy.
It is not everyday that such institutions as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund predict more than double our own economic growth projections. But for 2017, the World Bank is convinced that this economy will grow by 3,8 percent, more than the 1,7 percent that Minister Chinamasa had projected.
This is ahead of Africa 1,2 percent projection and a global figure of 2,7 percent.
The Bretton-Woods institution’s 2017 forecast for Zimbabwe also exceeds the projected growth estimates for Sub-Saharan Africa, which has been put at 2,9 percent.
Last year, the local economy faced a number of challenges including cash shortages and low new foreign direct investment (FDI), but these factors are intricately tied to the state of the broader global economy, especially as low commodity prices (for example) prevailed throughout the course of 2016.
“Commodity prices are expected to stabilise, but stay well below their levels of 2011, and fiscal adjustment needs remain large . . . Risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside. They include heightened policy uncertainty in the United States and Europe, slower improvements in commodity prices, and tighter global financing conditions.
“Domestically (Sub-Saharan Africa), policy makers may not enact the reforms needed to rebuild fiscal buffers. Addressing fiscal vulnerabilities, and bolstering per capita growth remain key policy challenges across the region,” said the World Bank.
At the broader level, global growth for 2017 has been projected at 2,7 percent on the back of anticipated gains in emerging and developing economies.
“Growth in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) is expected to pick up in 2017, reflecting receding obstacles to activity in commodity exporters and continued solid domestic demand in commodity importers.
“Weak investment and productivity growth are, however, weighing on medium-term prospects across many EMDEs. Downside risks to global growth include increasing policy uncertainty in major advanced economies and some EMDEs, financial market disruptions, and weakening potential growth,” said the World Bank.
“However, fiscal stimulus in key major economies — in particular, the United States — could lead to stronger-than-expected activity in the near term and thus represent a substantial upside risk to the outlook,” said the World Bank.
For Zimbabwe the projection is quite achievable if we all put our hands on deck and sing from the same hymn book.
This is well ahead of Africa’s growth expectations of 1,3 percent.
Predictions by the WB says a lot about the possibilities and the potential this economy holds.
What’s possible is anything. What’s possible, is everything.
What’s possible is possible now. What’s possible is possible for you.
You can’t undo what’s already happened. However, you can choose right now from a limitless array of what’s possible as you move forward.
Don’t limit your thinking to just what’s likely or what’s probable. Infinitely expand your choices by considering all that is possible.
If you feel stuck, it’s probably because you are holding your imagination back. Consider what you’ve not yet considered, and expect much more than you’ve ever dared to expect.
Open yourself to what’s possible. And delight in living the best of the possibilities. – Ralph Marston.
In God I trust!
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