Harare undertakes major road repairs

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) has been undertaking major repairs on roads in the Central Business District, low and high density areas as part of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme that was launched last year.

The city’s roads had been marked as a national emergency after most of them could not be trafficable due to potholes and lack of maintenance.

Below are excerpts of an interview conducted between municipal reporter Helen Kadirire and HCC director of works Zvenyika Chawatama.

Q: Which roads is council focusing on?

A: The roads had deteriorated to a stage where they were no longer friendly to motorists. When the programme started, a list of roads that were in need of repairs was drawn up. Focus was initially placed on the CDB and other major roads that feed into the CBD. Some of the roads in town were attended to while we also went to low density areas. We have started to also do repairs in our high density suburbs in areas such as Mabvuku/Tafara, Sunningdale, Highfield, Mbare, Budiriro and Glen View. For Mbare it is including the rehabilitation of Mbare Musika as well.

Q: How much was council allocated by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) for road repairs?

A: For 2018 we have been allocated $12,9 million for roads rehabilitation, however, it is not sufficient for the works that we wanted to conduct. But there is an additional allocation of $1,8 million we were given (by Zinara) and that is already being used to upgrade what we call “critical identified hotspots”. These roads were in dire need and for now we have zeroed in on Mbare. That programme is going to extend to other areas. Government has told us that they are mobilising more funds which will go towards the roads exercise. The roads we have identified for repairs need huge amounts of money…We have five contractors that are working on roads namely Tarcon, T and C, Bitumen World and Fossil.

Q: For a road to be considered completely repaired and safe, what is required?

A:  A complete road is one that is safe in every aspect and has all the requisite carriageway markings and humps. We have realised that humps are necessary because once a road is repaired; motorists have the habit of speeding and that can be reduced through speed humps to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other road users. We are preparing documents to resume the exercise so that we start putting carriageway markings as soon as possible.

Q: For how long should roads go for unrepaired?

A: A road is designed to last 20 to 25 years of course with the relevant maintenance being done. But a properly constructed road lasts forever as long as you do the required maintenance being routine and periodic.

Routine maintenance is that of drain clearing, grass cutting and making sure that were potholes develop they are attended to immediately as they appear. The periodic maintenance is the resealing which can be done once every seven to 10 years. Maintenance of roads should be timeous.

Q: Has the Quarry started working considering it is a major component of Harare’s road works?

A: The Quarry is actually the backbone of the city’s road maintenance works because it provides the major materials that we use on roads being stone and preparation of asphalt concrete. The better part of this year has been non-productive because of transitional issues of transferring the quarry to be a private company. Harare Quarry (PVT) Ltd is now on the ground trying to capacitate the quarry with the requisite workforce and repairs that it needs to be productive. In the next few weeks the quarry should be working to produce road repairs materials.

Q: Council has previously mulled introducing concrete roads, has that proposal been finalised?

A: Concrete roads by nature will require more money; they are more capital intensive to do. They have advantages and disadvantages. When you want to trench across it is difficult because of the concrete. Their major advantage is that the cement and stones used can be locally sourced, as opposed to bitumen surfaced roads which will require foreign currency to import the materials. The idea is, however, still being synthesised by council. However, there are roads that have huge amounts of traffic which we may consider to change to concrete.

Q: What are some of the challenges council has faced in its road repairs exercise?

A: Trenching by telecommunications has been identified as a major challenge and we have put in place measures to ensure that there is adequate regulation of trenching by either ourselves or the companies that put their cabling. We are definitely enforcing regulation that makes sure that we do not have trenches that end up being abandoned and later turn into potholes which become a hindrance to motorists and may eventually cause accidents.

Q: How much is required to fix the city’s roads?

A: Our major priority is to ensure that motorists are able to travel from where they stay to their work places be it in the CBD or industrial areas. The major arterial roads are our priority. With time and funds permitting we will then go into access roads into homes. We will be considering fixing roads that go to clinics, hospitals, shopping centres and schools — places that are frequented by people. We have had a long time without attending to the roads and we have a huge backlog of maintenance requirements.

What is required by council to bring the roads to reasonable standards is nothing less of $500 million. But that money can be sourced and released as a plan over three to five years.

Council has not been doing much to the roads because of resource constraints so anything that has been happening is the rate of deterioration of that infrastructure. No wonder why we have potholes sprouting everywhere whenever the slightest rains occur because the road network has not been receiving the adequate maintenance is needs.

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