Zinara collections not enough: Govt

BULAWAYO - The cash-strapped government has said money collected by the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) was not enough to rehabilitate the bad road network across the country.

This also comes after government revealed that they are still in the process of servicing its $206 million loan sourced from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) about seven years ago.

The funds, which were secured during the Government of National Unity period, were used for the rehabilitation of the 820 kilometres highway from Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare.

Transport minister Joram Gumbo told Southern News that before any funds disbursement could be made to the rural and urban local authorities for road infrastructure development, servicing the loan was a priority.

“Remember that what Zinara collects is not enough to rehabilitate or construct all the roads in the country because basically what Zinara has to first look at is the repayment of the loan that was given to Zimbabwe by DBSA to construct the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Gweru and Harare-Mutare roads,” Gumbo said.

“So, that’s the first port of call and what remains is then what is allocated to the four road authorities,” he said.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa two years ago admitted that the repayment was proving to be heavy, forcing government to negotiate for a softer stance in repayment.
This was after Zinara had only managed to pay $21 million to DBSA in the first half of the total collection of $74,6 million. Zinara was established in terms of the Road Act (Chapter 13:18) in 2002 with the aim of enhancing the road network system throughout the country.

Its core mandate is that of fixing road user charges and collecting such charges or any other revenue for the road fund, in consultations with the ministry of Transport.

After collecting revenue, the parastatal is supposed to remit funds to local authorities who then ensure that roads around their areas are maintained. Local authorities have the primary responsibility of repairing roads in terms of the Urban Councils’ Act (Chapter 29.15), Second Schedule section 198, paragraph 19 (1).

Zinara collects in excess of $5,5 million per month from the 26 tollgates dotted around the country and an additional $130 million annually from road access fees, vehicle licensing, transit fees and the fuel levy among other revenue streams.

Meanwhile, as most of the roads have continued to deteriorate due to lack of funds, Gumbo said: “We have noted that some of the rural district councils for various reasons have not been able to utilise the monies that have been allocated to them.”

He added: “We have observed that some of the road authorities do not have qualified engineers and qualified staff, so that becomes problem number one but we have encouraged that these road authorities must try and work together with other road authorities who might have engineers because at the end of the day, all the roads belong to the ministry of Transport.”

The Transport minister also added that his ministry has since read the riot act to the local authorities who had a tendency of abusing allocated funds.

“There are instances where some rural district councils have abused their funds by paying for their salaries and allowances, those have been cautioned and I want to believe that it won’t happen again,” he said

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