Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
The Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2) is not just giving communities access to decent roads, but the contractors commissioned to do the work have been hiring people from communities when they need labour.
By July this year, 55 contractors had given temporary employment to 11 000 people under ERRP2, so the Government funding was providing not just decent communications, but also a large number of job opportunities with contractors hiring local people.
Under the second phase of ERRP2, the Government is resealing 1 290km of roads, reconstructing 427 drainage structures, and working on 24 830km of erosion rehabilitation and drains across the country.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is also working with local authorities as the implementing agent in carrying out the roadworks under ERRP2.
Cabinet had declared the country’s road network a state of disaster to allow central Government to step in ahead of local authorities, especially municipalities which generally have high levels of independence.
Across the country there is a hive of activity on roads with both arterial and suburban roads being rehabilitated and upgraded as part of the country’s modernisation drive, taking into account the centrality of infrastructure in industrialisation towards attaining Vision 2030 for Zimbabwe to become an upper middle-class economy.
Critically, it is local companies that are leading the construction of roads after President Mnangagwa took a deliberate policy to engage local industries, in the process helping them retool and take part in the industrialisation and modernisation of the country embracing his mantra “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday during a media tour of the Mbudzi interchange, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said at the interchange they were nearly 600 people that had been employed under the project.
“What is exciting is the support that we are getting from the community in terms of the works that are happening and even in terms of employment creation we have witnessed that this project (Mbudzi roundabout) has actually enrolled close to 570 people who are working here, covering those with disabilities as well and also those who don’t even qualify in terms of academic qualities.
“But we are saying everyone has been embraced on this particular project and I am happy that as we move in terms of gender balance, we have witnessed that they are also engineers who are partaking in this exercise. But above all this an exercise that we make sure that the contractor is promoting issues to do with efficiency and effective way of constructing this interchange,” he said.
Other people are set to get jobs anytime this year under various projects that have been lined up including the rehabilitation of the Chirundu Highway and the Chirundu Border Post.
Speaking during interviews in Harare on Wednesday, several people applauded Government for ensuring that locals were also being hired in to assist the contractors as the government has since moved in various suburbs in the city to reconstruct and widen road networks.
A Glen Norah resident, Mr Taurai Mukotekwa said the move by Government to rehabilitate and widen Amalinda Road was commendable.
“I would like to applaud government for moving in rehabilitate roads in some of the suburbs in the city especially this road, Amalinda. Not only does this road going to be an advantage to motorists connecting to various suburbs but when it is being rehabilitated, it will create employment for some of the youths living nearby this area,” he said.
Another Hopley resident, Mrs Tatenda Sithole said she was happy that thousands of people continue to be employed countrywide since ERRP started.
She said she was aware that several youths from various suburbs near the Mbudzi Interchange had been employed at the site.
Mrs Mercy Foya from Glen View said it was her hope that such programmes continue as they go a long way in creating employment and also making sure that the country has good road networks.
“The Second Republic is doing a tremendous work for both the people and ensuring that the country has good road networks and infrastructure countrywide,” she said.
Another Harare resident, Mr Simba Mandisodza said the Government was walking the talk as they were not leaving anyone and place behind under ERRP.
A local businessman said by creating good road networks, would ensure that goods were transported freely while creating employment for the youths would also ensure a crime and drug free environment as people would be kept busy rather than engaging in nefarious activities.