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Govt okays shoddy road works, ‘it’s what we can afford’

Contractors who are papering over the cracks in the rehabilitation of the country’s roads, are doing so with the blessing of authorities, who say the shoddy works are what the country can afford.

Senators raised alarm last week, pointing at discrepancies in the ongoing road rehabilitation works across the country, where some portions appear to be done better than others.

Responding to the concerns, Transport minister, Felix Mhona said a total resurfacing of the country’s 98,000 kilometres of road was in order but limited funds and sanctions had forced Government’s hand.

“I believe that when we will be refurbishing our roads, for instance the Hon. Senator alluded to Seke road indeed, from Harare, the road is done well. When you reach Maruta Shopping Centre, the road is not pleasing. This does not imply that money was not used properly but it means that there is an asphalt overlay,” Mhona said.

“An overlay which is different from the chip and spray model which was used from Maruta. So the qualities are different but the other one is cheaper. This also means that there is a difference in the quality of roads because of a number of reasons. This results in people observing and commenting about the status of the road and because of financial issues, we believe that if we had enough finances, then we could do the same until we reach Makoni Shopping Centre.”

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He added that “those who did their job did what was expected of them. However, what I was explaining is that they were given different tasks, it is different from those who started from Harare to Maruta.”

Mhona was quick to say the “country is under sanctions lest we forget and whatever we are doing, we are using our own resources. We are funding from the domestic purse.”

He added that tollgate fees are inadequate.

“We are talking of a 98 000 km stretch of our roads in this country where 95% are in a sorry state. So, I would also humbly appeal to the citizenry to bear with the Government that the resources are scarce but we are not leaving any location behind. However, the tremendous speed that we would desire might not be achieved given the fact that we are using our own resources and at times the fiscus has its own challenges,” Mhona said.

“As we speak, we are busy scoping the roads and you will see my team descending; we are in some of these roads that I am talking about but you will see an accelerated pace going forward.”

Mhona said added pressure had been brought to bear by local authorities who had failed to demonstrate that they have the capacity to rehabilitate our roads.

“I want to thank the Second Republic, in particular His Excellency the President, who then said we cannot continue in this sorry state where we have been rehabilitating our trunk roads but alas, this is not happening to our local authorities,” Mhona said.

“So, he has then directed that this year, we need to go down to the grassroots, into the locations which is under the purview of the local authorities but we now need to take over, hence the Ministry of Transport,” he continued.

“What has been given to local authorities was coming from ZINARA and we have been broadcasting figures coming from ZINARA every quarter. We will continue doing that so that we bring the element of transparency and accountability.”

“However, I want to assure you that what has been coming from ZINARA has been declared but it is not enough. As the Second Republic, we are going to have a transport infrastructure indaba where we are going to invite other investors so that they come and partake in the exercise of rehabilitating our roads. This means we cannot do it alone but the pace that we are moving with is in accordance to the available funds that we have.” Zim Morning Post