By Rumbidzayi Zinyuke
The section of Skyline-Chimanimani Road that collapsed on Saturday morning has been temporarily filled to allow traffic to flow smoothly, while a detour is being constructed.
The road gave in following a build-up of debris in an existing culvert caused water to change course and eat into the ground underneath the road.
One person died when his vehicle fell into the collapsed section last week.
Manicaland provincial roads engineer Atherton Zindoga said work on the detour by the contractor, Masimba Holdings, will start today.
“We have managed to clear the debris and the culvert is now draining well,” he said.
“In the meantime, we have filled the ditch with gravel to allow traffic to continue flowing, while we construct the detour.”
Eng Zindoga said once the detour was in place, permanent work on the road would begin.
During the initial construction of the Cyclone Idai damaged Skyline-Chimanimani Road in 2019, a 15km detour was created, but motorists felt it was too long.
Eng Zindoga said a shorter one would be created upstream of the destroyed section that will be only 200 metres long.
“We are urging members of the public to bear with us as we begin construction works,” he said.
“The section that has been temporarily repaired is safe to use, but we urge motorists to approach it with caution.”
In statement, Masimba Holdings said it will carry out repair works on the road stretch.
“The Chimanimani area has been experiencing heavy rains since the beginning of the rainy season,” said the firm.
“In the early hours of 30 January 2021, a small river changed its course upstream after an existing culvert was blocked by debris.
“This resulted in water undermining the road just before the culvert, causing a section of the Skyline-Chimanimani Road to collapse at the 69km peg. A ditch that is estimated 3m deep and 3m wide, and impassable to traffic, was created.
“Preliminary investigations indicate that the collapse may also have been aggravated by an underground stream. It is with sadness that we also inform you that a motorist travelling in the early hours of the morning of 30 January 2021, unaware of the state of the road, drove into the ditch and regrettably passed away.
“Our condolences go out to the family. Masimba Holdings Limited carried out extensive rehabilitation works on the Skyline-Chimanimani Road following damages caused by Cyclone Idai in 2019. The scope of the contracted works on the affected section was confined to resealing.
“Meanwhile, we have mobilised equipment to open a detour to allow vehicles to pass while we carry out repair works as per the Department of Roads engineering designs issued on 30 January 2021.” The Herald