Leonard Ncube in Hwange
THE Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway is in a bad state especially in Hwange where the road is almost caving in at some sections, with haulage trucks belonging to mining companies being blamed for inflicting the most damage.
While the whole stretch from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls is littered with potholes, it is the state of the road in Hwange that is worrying considering the number of companies operating in the coal mining town and expected to partner Government in rehabilitating the road.
Besides Hwange Colliery Company and Zimbabwe Power Company which are traditional operators in the coal mining town, a number of coal mines and other companies have opened in recent years.
These include Zimberly Coal Mine, Zambezi Coal and Gas, South Mining, Dinson Colliery, Zimbabwe Zhongzhin Electric Energy, Zimbabwe Zhongzhin Coking Company, Davis Granite, Makomo Resources, Hwange Coal Gasification and Western Areas Coal Mine among others.
Most of these use haulage trucks to carry coal and these have been blamed for most of the damage to the road.
A visit to Hwange yesterday revealed that the stretch of the road from Hwange truck stop to the old toll gate site about 20km outside town is now in a sorry state.
On some portions, heavy duty vehicles can hardly pass in opposite direction as the road has become narrow due to damage on the sides.
The worst part is the section of Cinderela Bridge where the road is almost caving in.
The road looks like a field that has just been ploughed and vehicles including buses, have to slow down as they negotiate their way on what is fast developing into some donga within the road.
Some loads of gravel were dumped yesterday waiting to be spread on the damaged parts.
Over the years, when approaching Hwange town, one would be welcomed by polluted air that would affect the eyes, and lately potholes and rough roads that makes driving within the vicinity of the coal mining town a nightmare.
The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway is overwhelmed by the number of haulage trucks using the road.
Some will be transporting coal from Hwange to other parts of the country or South Africa, while others will be carrying copper from Zambia.
Each day there are dozens of haulage trucks carrying tonnes of coal from Hwange Colliery, Makomo and Zambezi Coal and Gas either to the power station and other processors locally, or outside Hwange.
Companies operating in Hwange are doing virtually nothing to rehabilitate the roads damaged by trucks from their premises.
Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said the state of the road network was worrying.
He said he had engaged Hwange district development coordinator Mr Simon Muleya to summon company owners to Hwange.
Companies operating in the coal mining town have deliberately disregarded calls by various stakeholders in Hwange for them to repair sections of the road around their areas of operation as part of corporate social responsibility.
Last year Hwange residents appealed to the Zanu-PF District Coordinating Committee leadership to engage the companies, and a meeting that was set was only attended by managers who claimed that they had no authority to make decisions as their superiors are at head offices in Harare.
Another meeting was also held last year where Minister Moyo implored businesses operating in Hwange to plough back to the community by developing infrastructure including roads.
None of the companies have committed to fixing the roads which are in a sorry state.
“Our worry is that these companies have made promises but nothing has happened. Some approached Chief Whange and promised to fix Deka Road but nothing has happened and so I have tasked the DDC to summon chief executives of these companies from Harare to come to Hwange,” said Minister Moyo.
He said lack of coordination by Government departments was also causing laxity by companies.
“These companies get their licences from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development who are the ones, together with the Environmental Management Agency, who should enforce that anyone who gets a permit should invest in infrastructure. We are not engaged as a province and we have to make follow ups when there are such challenges,” he said.
Minister Moyo said Government has activated the department of roads to fix some sections of the main Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.
Some potholes have, however, been patched but the road is still in a bad state, and one can be forgiven for thinking the road is a gravel road because of lack of comfort when driving.
A section of Deka road has been gravelled from the truck stop up to the venue of the ground-breaking ceremony of Deka pipeline by President Mnangagwa today.
Chief Whange said efforts to engage mining companies have proved futile.
Deka Road passes through his village as it connects Hwange town to Zambezi River, where there are tourism activities and fishing.
It is the same road that leads to the water plantation that feeds Hwange Power Station and parts of the town with water.
“Deka Road is badly damaged. We have had several meetings and nothing has come out. The Minister of State has since advised the DDC to summon owners of the companies and we hope something will come out of this because the state of the road is affecting livelihoods as transporters are over-charging while cars are being damaged,” said Chief Whange. – @ncubeleon
Article Source: The Chronicle