Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has said 75 percent of its road network is in poor condition but has suspended road repairs until the end of the rainy season.
Driving around Bulawayo’s roads is a nightmare as they are littered with potholes, while some roads are in a total state of disrepair.
Many cars have been to the mechanics recently due to damaged shocks and suspensions; some have had their tyres and rims damaged due to the bad state of the roads.
While the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme launched by Government has seen some major roads being restored, BCC has failed to play its part, especially when it comes to roads in the city’s suburbs.
Siyephambili Drive is a prime example of the work done by Government and before Government’s intervention, the road was riddled with potholes, but now that is a thing of the past.
The major problem now lies in the suburbs, both western and eastern, as the roads leading to people’s homes are in a sorry state.
Bulawayo council spokesperson Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the city has 2 400km of roads of which 75 percent is in need of rehabilitation.
“The city’s overall road network is approximately 2 400km with 75 percent of its network in poor condition requiring urgent rehabilitation works, which include overlays and reconstruction works.
“Approximately US$700 million is required to bring the network to good condition, and to a relatively modest road system. To increase roads in good condition by 15 percent (360km) in the next five years, a minimum level of investment of US$15 million per annum is required,” said Mrs Mpofu in a statement.
She said as the roads continue to deteriorate, the city had to stop repairs due to the rains.
“The city has focused its maintenance programs in recent years on public transport routes, arterials, and collector roads, roads leading to institutions and the Central Business District, while the majority of the network especially the local streets cannot be attended to due to financial constraints and continue to deteriorate.
“Owing to recent rains, all road maintenance works have been halted due to wet ground with the exception of minor storm water drainage works. The road works will resume as soon as the rains subside,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said most roads in the city had outlived their lifespan.
“The City of Bulawayo notes that most of its roads are in a poor state, following the rains which have been received and also due to the fact that most of the city’s roads have outlived their economic life.
“The state of the city’s road network has been declining due to a large and growing backlog of deferred maintenance programmes which is attributed to lack of funding for decades. Road infrastructure shortcomings have resulted in increased travel time, rampant potholes, leading to a decline in road safety and high vehicle operating costs,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Mrs Mpofu said traditionally, Government allocations through the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and revenue accruing to council have been the primary sources of funding for road infrastructure.
She said inadequate funding every year has resulted in the road network continuing to deteriorate due to the gap between maintenance requirements and funding.
“The annual road budget is traditionally formulated on the basis of a ranking obtained from the latest available Road Condition Survey and the priority is on arterials, collectors, central business district and public transport route roads. Council is working to get the required resources to address the road challenges, and several initiatives are being made to secure capital funding for road improvements,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Looking into 2022, Mrs Mpofu said funding from devolution funds and Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme will help maintain the roads this year.
“The City’s Road implementation strategy for the year is to focus on existing road networks and do minimum to address safety concerns, preserve those roads in fair condition and keep City’s roads trafficable. The Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme and Devolution funding will be used to implement this strategy,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said a total of 51km of road will be worked on.
“Premix overlay works covering approximately, 18km length of road; Reseal works covering approximately, 20km length of road; Reconstruction covering approximately, 13km length of road; and Upgrading of street lights and traffic signs on improved roads,” said Mrs Mpofu.- Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi
Article Source: The Chronicle