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Poor road network could hamper festivities

Burzil Dube

THE Easter season is upon us and it is that time of the year when millions of Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ and the long weekend is cherished by all and sundry.

This year’s hallowed holiday runs from April 2 to April 5, which will see families coming together to enjoy the festivities associated with the brief spiritual calendar break.

Some of the traditionally held pastime activities include revisiting a couple of scripture verses related to events leading to the death of Jesus Christ as well as the resurrection proceedings.

Others have already started the process through observation of Lent which is the  season leading up to this particular holiday where praying and fasting are the order of the day.

Some families would come together and host the mother of all dinners as such type of grand meal provides fun and fellowship among others. Decoration of Easter eggs would also be another activity during this period.

This is also the period when various tourist facilities will be a hive of activity as both local and foreign holidaymakers visit such places as part of their outdoor activities.

However, this year’s Easter holidays come at a time when Zimbabwean authorities have slightly relaxed lockdown measures which may prove to be a turning point in the country’s hospitality industry.

The situation on the ground continues to paint a bleak future as far as this industry is concerned because of immobility of both local and foreign visitors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It remains to be seen if the hospitality industry would have managed to pull out from such a deep slumber and resurrect with utmost speed like the proverbial phoenix.

Yours truly recently highlighted in one of the travelling & touring  columns that Covid-19 after- effects were reportedly forcing South Korean authorities to contemplate converting  hotels and lodges into residential areas.

Under the proposed programme, all offices, hotels and lodges are to  be procured and gradually turned into some form of suburban homes.

Last week, a news article appeared in The Independent, our sister paper, that most major real estate companies were considering turning many offices within the Harare central business district into residential properties.

Some of the factors that led to a wholesale rethink of property administration is translocation of a number of organisations’ offices to low-density suburban areas.

The Covid-19 pandemic is reported to have also played a leading role in the exodus of most companies as they are now hosting their entire official meetings virtually.

It is a matter of time before a number of players within the hospitality industry literally close shop because this pandemic is certainly taking no prisoners in terms of employment retention.

Those familiar with cross-border escapades between Zimbabwe and South Africa are in the loop on how Greyhound and Citiliner had to permanently apply brakes to their luxury coaches after 37 years of uninterrupted service.

Greyhound is reported to have been the first luxury coach operator to start an intercity scheduled service, as far back as 1984. Its transport network covered all major cities in South Africa as well as Harare and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. It also traversed to Maputo in Mozambique.

Citiliner was also a division of Greyhound that started operating in 2005, with scheduled services to  Harare and Bulawayo as well as some major destinations in South Africa.

According to recent media reports, the semi-luxury coach transported more than 500 000 passengers annually over eight million kilometres.

Reduction in patronage due to the Covid-19 pandemic and also constant closure of the country’s borders compounded by lockdown rules contributed immensely to the organisation’s gradual demise.

Now that intercity travelling  has now been allowed to resume  following relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown regulations, yours truly envisages some improvement on the country’s road network.

The city of Victoria Falls is considered to be among the country’s major tourist attraction places and also leads the pack within Southern Africa. However, this could be soon be blighted because of the state of this  sole road network that is a major link with Bulawayo, the country’s second capital city.

Those in the know will vouch for yours truly on the impediments associated with this highway that happens to be a major route to Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A lot has been highlighted in the country’s various media concerning the deplorable state of the country’s major roads that have since been declared a state of disaster.

The powers-that-be have also “vowed” to attend to all the country’s major roads once the rainy season comes to an end, so it remains to be seen if a follow-through will be done.

Yours truly is also envisaging the day the National Railways of Zimbabwe will also resume its intercity passenger train service which, despite challenges on time consciousness, remains the most sought-after mode of transport.

Yours truly remains optimistic that some road network challenges will soon be a thing of the past.

Comments always welcome on: dubebasill@gmail.com or Twitter@DubeBurzil

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