PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said he is pained by the potholes on the country’s “once great highways” while committing $33,6 billion towards the rehabilitation of 10 000kms of the country’s roads.
Cabinet in February declared the country’s road network a state of disaster as most of the roads have become untrafficable following damage by heavy rains that were received across the country.
Posting on his Twitter account, the President said the country’s roads need urgent attention.
“Zimbabweans, our roads are in a state of emergency. It pains me to see so many potholes on our once great highways. We must act urgently. Today my Government committed $33,6 billion to rapidly rehabilitate 10,000 kilometres of Zimbabwe’s roads. I will not let you down,” tweeted President Mnangagwa.
Most Zimbabweans have said it is a nightmarish experience driving on pothole riddled roads, especially on the country’s highways.
Driving along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road, the country’s gateway to the Mighty Victoria Falls is now terrible for drivers as parts of the road are littered with potholes as a result of heavy rains.
A number of trucks get stuck on the side of the road while others lose control when avoiding potholes.
The same is true for Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road as the highway has been dilapidated due to incessant rains that were experienced this season.
From Bulawayo one is met with potholes that disturb easy flow of traffic at places that include Kensington, Esigodini, Mbalabala, Mtshabezi Turn-off, Nsindi, Mopane, Colleen Bawn and West Nicholson, among others.
The damage is causing vehicle breakdowns, tyre separation and at times accidents.
The problem is not on the country’s highways but also local roads as evidenced this year when Zupco abandoned some routes in Bulawayo due to bad roads.
Zupco discontinued servicing routes such as Cowdray Park-Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai area and Bulawayo’s outskirts routes such as St Peters and Khami Prisons.
Residents from affected areas have been forced to walk up to five kilometres from their homes to board Zupco buses.
After Zupco withdrew buses from the city-Khami Prison Complex and St Peters routes commuters now rely on private cars that are charging US$1,50 per trip.
Meanwhile, communities across Matabeleland North Province have implored authorities to urgently fix roads as many have resorted to using scotch carts to access important services to avoid being fleeced by transporters who overcharge them.
Matabeleland North is largely rural and most of the road network is gravel, with Bulawayo-Tsholotsho and Bulawayo-Nkayi which used to be tarred now in a sorry state.
All main roads in Lupane are reportedly not trafficable.
This is affecting critical services such as access to health facilities, distribution of food, delivery of farm produce to the market and other important social services.
Some outlying areas in some of the districts have been cut off from main centres after roads and small bridges were destroyed by rains.
In Victoria Falls, transporters now charge US$5 for a distance of 30km along the Victoria Falls-Chisuma Road which connects to Hwange via Msuna and Deka, where a distance of 10km between Hwange town and Chief Whange’s homestead is now pegged at US$2.
In Tsholotsho, most services are now confined to Tsholotsho centre and villagers now use scotch carts to go to hospital and to buy goods.
Acting Chief Mvuthu, Mr Bishop Sibanda of Mvuthu area, said travelling was now a nightmare for villagers.
“All roads in Mvuthu and Jambezi were damaged by rains and driving is now risky as it also damages cars. The challenge now is that people are harvesting and would want to transport their produce to the market. There is extensive travelling during this time because people have money but this year are being restricted by roads,” said Mr Sibanda.
Victoria Falls-Chidobe, Victoria Falls-Jambezi via Ndlovu and Mbizha are also bad.
In Chief Whange’s area, villagers want authorities to investigate what they said deliberate destruction of Deka Road by mining companies which have also closed a section of the road without seeking authority from Government.
Chief Whange said his area is almost cut-off from Hwange town because of the poor state of Deka Road.
“People are being overcharged and we wish the issue of corporate social responsibility could be strengthened so that companies fix the road because it was tarred before they came in. We have tour operating companies at the river and it’s like we are chasing tourists away with our poor road,” he said.
Binga Rural District Council chief executive Mr Joshua Muzamba said the local authority is working on storm drains at Binga centre and Nakaluba-Lusulu road which connects to Jotsholo in Lupane while waiting for road funds.