$2bn required for roads rehabilitation

HARARE - More than $2 billion is needed for the rehabilitation of Zimbabwe’s roads and  help restore the network to international standards, businessdaily has learnt.

Zimbabwe’s road network, once rated as the best in southern Africa outside South Africa, has increasingly become an eyesore and dangerous to motorists due to lack of proper maintenance.

Eric Gumbie, principal director technical services in the ministry of Transport told the National Economic Consultative Forum (Necf) steering committee that Zimbabwe needs at least $1 billion for the rehabilitation of primary, secondary and tertiary road networks while an additional $1 billion is needed for the dualisation of trunk roads.

“Most of our roads are now in excess of 40 years old and we have not been able to rehabilitate them due to lack of funding,” he said.

“The rapidly deteriorating infrastructure requires at least $2 billion for rehabilitation and upgrading but government is not in a position to finance this key sector.”

According to the International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) the public road network in Zimbabwe comprises about 88 300 km.

“Of this about 15 000km is paved. Only 24 percent of the network is currently estimated to be in ‘good’ condition, 40 percent is estimated to be in ‘poor’ condition and the remaining 36 percent is in fair condition."

“The condition of the network has deteriorated significantly since 1995. Most of this deterioration has occurred on urban roads, and on the unpaved rural road network,” says the IFRTD website.

Gumbie said 50 percent of the roads in the country were classified as poor due to lack of maintenance and adequate funding.

“For the past 15 years we have been receiving only 10 percent from treasury of what we require. This year we only got $209 million and Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) has only collected an estimated $80 million in revenue from the tollgates, which is a far cry from what we need,” he said.

To help ease in rehabilitating the country’s roads the government engaged South African company, Group Five, in the upgrading of the Plumtree-Mutare road.

Gumbie said the dualisation of Harare-Bulawayo road which is currently at Harare-Norton will take long to conclude due to limited capital space.

“We have not been able to continue with dualisation in most of our roads as funds are not permitting. However, dualisation of the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare road is well on course. It is currently between Plumtree and Shangani. Additional funding to achieve the dualisation is being finalised with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).”

Infrastructure experts say roads which have exceeded their intended design life include Harare-Beitbridge, Harare-Chirundu, Harare-Plumtree, Harare-Mutare, Harare-Bindura, Harare-Nyamapanda, Gweru-Chivhu, Gweru-Zvishavane, Masvingo-Mutare, Masvingo-Bulawayo, Bulawayo-Beitbridge and Bulawayo-Victoria Falls roads.

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