Time to act on damaged roads

HARARE - It is a travesty of justice that motorists pay road fees and other forms of tax yearly yet they drive on badly damaged roads which government and relevant departments don’t bother to fix.

For years, motorists and indeed members of the public who use commuter transport have watched helplessly as government prioritised other areas without paying attention to improving the country’s infrastructure, including the potholed roads which have become death traps.

Recent revelations by Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni that the city council is getting a measly $1 million instead of $40 million annually,  for road rehabilitation, shows the total disregard for maintaining roads and putting to goods use millions of dollars that the motoring public pays as taxes.

It is not the Harare City Council that has this problem alone — but all local and rural district authorities who have had to grapple with thousands of lawsuits from disgruntled motorists seeking compensation for their damaged cars.

The current wet spell, while bringing a big cheer to farmers and residents who had been experiencing water rationing, is a stark reminder to motorists of the impending costly repairs to their cars — especially on suspensions and tyres.

It is sad that most of the roads have not had repairs and the current rains only serve to worsen their state.

What must be pointed out is that the function to collect road levies by municipalities on behalf of the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), which was taken away five years ago, helped the local authorities to repair and maintain roads within their boundaries, on time.

Zinara, while it is its function to disburse the funds for local road maintenance, has not done this satisfactorily.

The roads administrator could be caught up in difficult situations given the parlous state of the government’s finances, but it would do itself a big favour by franchising some of its roles to local authorities, as was the case previously.

It is time that the State develops and then implements a sensible road infrastructure plan that revitalises our cities, towns and rural roads.

Zimbabwe cannot continue like this — adorned by dilapidated and dysfunctional infrastructure — at a time when there is transformation among its neighbours.

Crucially, government must justify why it expects every motorist to pay road fees in the current circumstances.

Answers lie in using those taxes for what they are intended!

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