BY BURZIL DUBE
THE issue of potholes continues to hog the limelight for all the right or wrong reasons and today it will be revisited in Yours Truly’s column where readers are not amused by the “lackadaisical” approach being exhibited by the responsible authorities.
It seems the travelling public’s ire was raised when the powers-that-be said this whole pothole issue would soon be a “thing of the past” as rehabilitation preparations were gathering momentum.
To the uninitiated, this matter was extensively discussed in previous travelling & touring columns where Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu assured Yours Truly and members of the public that potholes would certainly be attended to and could soon be history.
Ndlovu said everything was on course following the state of disaster declaration by government and he expressed confidence that most highways would be taken care of as a matter of urgency.
The minister admitted that he experienced the gravity of the matter when he personally travelled by road from the resort city of Victoria Falls to Bulawayo.
Most of the 300km of the tarred road has an array of potholes whose alarming proportions are gradually turning it into a death trap while in the process becoming a hindrance to both local and foreign tourists.
Scepticism is becoming prevalent among the travelling public as evidenced by comments readers sent to Yours Truly as part of feedback from followers who continue to demand tangible evidence.
Others expressed optimism on the state of disaster announcement, but were wary of red tape finding its way especially through road rehabilitation projects or programmes.
Here are some of the abridged comments sent to Yours Truly concerning this topical issue.
Dear Yours Truly,
Thank you for your article on potholes being be a thing of the past. While I do agree with you on the work our government is doing, I feel that our roads need more than patching potholes and this also includes the Plumtree-Mutare highway. The status of our roads has gone beyond the patching phase. I recently used the Victoria Falls road and observed that patches were no longer necessary, but a complete overhaul of the entire road is needed.
I was of the opinion that you were going to bring the following issues:
1.Decongest the highways by working on bypasses, ring roads and alternative shorter routes. As an example, the Beitbridge-Victoria Falls road can be decongested through:
- a) Constructing a strong tarred road from Kwekwe to Nkayi and Nkayi to Lupane, Lupane to Tsholotsho and Tsholotsho to Plumtree while there could be Plumtree to Gwanda via Manama. These can be both a ring road and by-passes.
Vehicles travelling from Harare to Victoria Falls do not need to pass through Gweru and Bulawayo; they simply use the Kwekwe-Lupane bypass.
Similarly, vehicles from Bulawayo to Harare may use the Nkayi- Kwekwe bypass. The same might also apply to those from Victoria Falls to Plumtree; they can use the Lupane-Tsholotsho-Plumtree bypass.
We need to invest in road networks to improve efficiencies on our roads.
- b) Let us have flyovers in towns to decongest our urban roads and develop new ring roads.
- c) Let us rehabilitate our roads using reputable construction companies
- d) Allow private sector and international investors to build better roads.
Thank you for highlighting the status of our roads and the work we all need to embark on to make our country’s road network safer.
Then another one
I wonder if this will ever come true under this inept administration. All they ever do is blame everything on sanctions.
The most important thing any administration can do is maintenance of what has been already developed.
Too many roads have been neglected to the point where repairs would now be compared to resurfacing.
One bad example is the Gwiriri road which links the Eastern Highlands Tea Estates road which is now full of large potholes all over. This road was tarred in the mid-1970s when the country was at war and under a United Nations economic embargo, real and debilitating sanctions.
Zinara now collects all road taxes instead of local authorities, but it does not make proportionate remittances back to councils for road maintenance, hence the sorry state of our roads in the cities.
They collect tollgate fees from highway traffic and still fail dismally to maintain the highways.
Even gravel roads that used to be part of the all-weather road system in many regions are no longer being maintained, with some having seen no graders at work in years. This is pathetic.
Having said this, I hope I will be proved wrong when we see your optimistic prediction on expected improvements. Thank you for raising this important topic for discussion.
PS: For some reason The Standard would not let me post this as a comment
There is nothing more to add or subtract.
Till we meet again in the next column.
- Comments always welcome on: email@example.com or Twitter@DubeBurzil