Sifelani Tsiko Environment & Innovations Editor
Work to repair four bridges and a section of the Hellsgate Mkanga Road in the Mana Pools National Park is underway three weeks after flooding damaged the infrastructure, a senior Government road engineer said.
Mashonaland West provincial road engineer Simbarashe Gomo told The Herald yesterday that the construction of the bridges and road, which were damaged by heavy storms in January, was well underway and was expected to be completed within 45 days.
The contractor — Concrete Masters (Pvt) Ltd began work on site this week, to repair all damaged bridge approaches and road sections along the 31km Hellsgate Mkanga Road stretch.
“The scope of works include rehabilitation of all damaged bridge approaches and road sections along the Hellsgate Mkanga Road. The contractor is now on-site and work is expected to be completed in 45 days,” said Eng Gomo. The affected bridges are Marongora Bridge at 1km peg, Chemutsi Bridge at 2.3km peg, Rumwa Bridge at 15km peg and Rukomeshi at 31km peg.
The damage of the bridges and the road by heavy rains had restricted access to the popular Mana Pools National Park in the northern part of the country on the southern banks of the Zambezi River.
The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its amazing beauty and a diverse suite of tourist adventures – is rich in wildlife biodiversity.
Situated at the northern most point of Zimbabwe straddling the Zambian border, Mana Pools has floodplains, baobab trees, forests and riverine wilderness with the biggest concentration of hippos and crocodiles in the whole of the country.
The park also boasts of having large herds of elephants, buffaloes, eland, zebras, baboons and waterbucks among other animals.
Construction of the road and damaged bridges will enhance tourist access to the resort spot.
Loss of access to the world heritage site due to damaged bridges and roads had reduced revenue for wildlife conservation for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) struggling to recover from the impact of Covid-19-related travel restrictions and budgetary cuts from the national fiscus.
Government has made significant progress under the second phase of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) to improve the country’s road network.