Underfunding hamper Zim roads network rehabilitation

Lovemore Lubinda

The Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo has revealed that underfunding is hampering government efforts to rehabilitate the nation’s now dilapidated road network.

Addressing journalists at a press conference in Harare yesterday, Gumbo said of the required US$100 million, only US$14.5 million has been raised so far to cater for the whole country.

He said this little money is being availed to all the country’s road authorities namely Department of Roads in the Ministry of Transport, Urban Councils, District Development Fund, and Rural District councils.

He said his government is doing all it can through the Office of the President and Cabinet to make sure that the road network is attended to.

“We have also tasked Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) to apply for a US$50 million loan facility for the road maintenance so that we speed up resource mobilisation,” he said.

This has also come at the time there was public outcry over the state of roads particularly in Harare, the local authority had been on the receiving end as motorists and residents complain over potholes, they say the state of the roads was damaging their vehicles.

In that regard, Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni recently told a full council meeting that residents should demand answers regarding road maintenance from Zinara.

“This road maintenance is an unfunded mandate, there is nothing we can do about it anymore. Residents should demand answers from Zinara,” he told councillors at a meeting.

The country has been struggling to repair its road network, amid alleged corruption cases in some process that include tender awarding, and other financial leakages in the responsible sections.

In 2016, a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communication heard that there have been cases of rampant corruption in Zinara’s toll fees system, in which some employees were fired.

A few years ago, a South African company Group Five allegedly conned the government about US$50 million, the exact amount that Gumbo says Zinara has been tasked to borrow. This company was to rehabilitate Plumtree- Mutare highway to the total tune of US$206 million.