President commissions Norton bridge
Zvamaida Murwira and Heather Charema
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday commissioned the US$4,5 million Norton road-over-rail Bridge in Mashonaland West Province and promised that his Government will continue constructing major infrastructure using locally-mobilised resources.
The bridge eliminates a rail crossing by taking the major Harare-Bulawayo highway over the main railway line, improving safety and reducing delays.
The Government is also working on extending the Norton Toll Plaza on the dualised road as part of the New Dispensation’s commitment to infrastructure development.
In his address before commissioning the bridge, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe should not continue to lag behind its neighbours whose road infrastructure has been modernised.
“All our neighbours have dualised and refurbished their roads and we need to do the same, so that our roads can match those of our neighbours in terms of quality and safety. So my Government will continue to fund the construction, rehabilitation of infrastructure across the entire country from domestic resources. We will not go to World Bank and IMF,” said President Mnangagwa.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development has to distribute resources equally across all provinces with no preferential treatment being accorded to any region.
“I urge the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to continue with the zeal and pace that has been going on, and our Government will continue to support you. I urge the Department of Roads to prudently utilise resources allocated for roads and bridge construction so that the majority of our people benefit.
“I also urge stakeholders that projects of this nature are in compliance with the local content policy. I call for equitable distribution of resources across all provinces and this duty is on you (Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joel) Matiza. Make sure there is no province more important than the other,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said while Zimbabwe will continue on its re-engagement drive, it will do so with clear conscience that it had not wronged anyone.
“Yes, we have introduced the policy of engagement and re-engagement, but we have never offended any country. We have distributed our own land and not someone else’s land. So we are saying to the international community ‘let us embrace each other’. What differences are there? Where have we offended you? We know we have not offended you, but you are imposing sanctions on us. What crime have committed? None!” said President Mnangagwa.
He commended the contractor, Bitumen World, for completing the project ahead of schedule.
Speaking at the same occasion, Minister Matiza said the project had created jobs for 28 skilled and 82 unskilled workers.
“The bridge as it stands now, has a 6 metre vertical clearance to accommodate trains as per requirements of National Railways of Zimbabwe and a width of 10,5 metres to accommodate an additional railway line and future rail developments,” said Minister Matiza.
“For smooth passage of vehicles the bridge included approximately 450m bridge approaches on both sides, gabion retention walls and guard rails on either side for road safety.”
He said the bridge was constructed bearing in mind the need to reduce road carnage.
“Under the Second Republic the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridges must be perceived correctly as facilitating the movement of goods, products and passengers within the country and beyond. In view of our ongoing plans to rehabilitate roads (and) railways are primarily the principal means of transport and this road is a crucial cog in our economic relations with our neighbouring countries,” he said.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa said as a farming area, the construction of the bridge would go a long way in bringing connectivity to the community.
“Our province is a breadbasket of the country. We are a hardworking province that drives the economy through mining, agriculture and manufacturing,” she said.