Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
GOVERNMENT has started fixing a section of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road which was damaged by rains a month ago near Masuwe River Bridge in the resort city.
Heavy rains that fell in November washed road sides, creating a sink hole that left the tarred road precariously hanging making driving past the section dangerous. The eastern lane has since been barricaded to prevent motorist from using it as there are fears that it might collapse. The same portion of the road was initially damaged by floods in December 2021 and has not been repaired.
The rains that were recorded across the country last month worsened the situation.
Tourism players expressed concern over the road, saying it is a threat in terms of accessibility to the tourism capital amid reports some international travel agents were now removing Victoria
Falls from their tourism basket list to protect their clients.
Matabeleland North provincial roads engineer Xolani Ncube said work to repair the road has started and will likely be completed within a fortnight. Construction material has been delivered on site.
He said the road will be restored to its original state while a bigger storm drain will be constructed.
“We are going to put a new water culvert and restore the road to its former level. There are two points where water flows over the road and so we are going to increase that water culverts from 600mm to 1200mm to capture all the water coming from the trench created by the council,” said Eng Ncube.
“If everything goes well we expect to complete the work within two weeks.”
The damaged section of the road stretches from the Truck Stop turn towards Masuwe Bridge.
Motorists have expressed concern about the state of the entire Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway and have appealed to the Government to urgently rehabilitate the road.
The highway is now littered with dangerous potholes, making it difficult to drive, especially at night. The worst affected parts of the road is around Hwange town where some of the potholes are very deep, and in some sections they cover the entire width of the road making driving a nightmare.
Government has said full rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway will only start after the completion of the ongoing upgrade of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway.
Rehabilitation and upgrading of the country’s road network is among key National Development
Strategy 1 (NDS1) projects.
The Government under the Second Republic availed $33 billion to fund the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2) after it declared the country’s roads a state of disaster.
The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway connects Zimbabwe to South Africa and Zambia and passes through Beitbridge Border Post, which is Sadc’s busiest inland port.
Government had engaged a South African firm, Khato Civils, to rehabilitate the highway under the build, operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement in 2019, but later cancelled the deal after the company delayed to implement the project.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe Matabeleland North representative Mrs Barbara
Murasiranwa said the tourism industry has lost business because of the damaged section of the road.
She said the industry raised concern over delays in fixing the road.
“Tourism is about access and as such accommodation and activities without proper access will not bring visitors. The bad state of the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo Highway especially in the Hwange area is worrying,” said Mrs Murasiranwa.
She urged authorities to urgently rehabilitate the damaged sections of the highway to make destination Zimbabwe great again.
Article Source: The Chronicle