Army roped in to fix bridges

HARARE - The Transport ministry has engaged the army to assist in the reconstruction of bridges washed away by rampaging floods, Parliament has been told.

This comes as torrential rains have swept away five bridges along major highways across the country.

The destroyed bridges include Nkankezi along Zvishavane-Mbalabala road in Matabeleland South, Jeka Bridge along Danga-Dolo in Midlands and Nuanetsi Bridge along Mberengwa-West Nicholson road in the Midlands Province.

Deputy Transport minister Michael Madanha told the National Assembly on Wednesday that “we have also requested other parties such as the Zimbabwe National Army to assist us, especially in the construction of bridges”.

“Bridges take long to construct,” he said.

This comes after the floods — declared a national disaster — reportedly killed 246 people, according to officials figures while injuring 128, with 1 985 people having been declared homeless while desperate travellers are using ladders to cross washed-away bridges, Transport minister Joram Gumbo has said.

Madanha added that the ministry was also working on fixing potholes.

“We want to end this pothole menace that is in our nation,” he said.

Government has since set up a committee chaired by the Finance ministry to mobilise resources for the urgent repair of roads.

Madanha said the committee had to date raised $20 million of the $100 million required for the emergency road repair programme.

“As of now, I want to enlighten this house that we now have $20 million that is being used to address phase one that I have mentioned,” he said.

“What I would want to clarify is that whenever there are heavy rains, the first enemy of our road network is water or the rains.”

He added: “This year, we have been blessed with a lot of rains which has led to a bumper harvest.

“On the other hand, this rain has destroyed our road network. I want to promise to all those listening that the government has plans to restore our road network.”

Madanha said government had begun to roll out emergency works on the country’s roads.

“We have three plans and the first one is on emergency works. If you go out there, you find that there are people who are addressing the issue of potholes to ensure that we drive on safe roads,” he said.

“The second plan is to restore our bridges and protecting them from being washed away by the rain. The third plan is to resurface the roads.”

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