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Potholes put damper on festive season

THE festive season is gradually upon us with hotels and lodges reporting brisk bookings while all sorts of special discounts are being thrown around as individuals and families have already identified suitable destinations to spend their pass time activities.

However, while the Christmas period is a few weeks away, this is the opportune time to ensure that all is in legendary order in terms of logistics and other related issues so that any form of inconveniencing is avoided at all costs.

In Zimbabwe, festive seasoning normally starts in December and ends during the first week of January amid pomp and fanfare even in rural communities where there would be a hive of activities at adjacent shopping centres.

While the festive season is approaching the doorstep, the same cannot be said about logistics especially road network system whose status calls for immediate action without any further delays.

Most local tourists use the opportunity to visit places of interests.

This is, however, not limited to the festive period, but to other travelling aspects hence the government introduced the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).

Under this ambitious programme, government through relevant ministries was to assist in provisions of funding of the country's highways which were gradually becoming a death trap to the travelling public.

Funds were availed from national treasury, Zinara Road Fund and a portion of devolution funds meant for implementation of road projects.

The ERRP goal is to increase the number of kilometres of road transport network as part of efforts to meet Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission Standards from five to 10 percent by 2025 as well as increase the number of kilometres in road network.

It is to be increased from 14 702km to 24 500km by 2025, hence President Emmerson Mnangagwa's clarion call to prioritise and accelerate completion of ongoing road projects.

There has been considerable progress under this programme as evidenced by resealing and resurfacing of most major highways such as part of Beitbridge-Chirundu route, which is considered one of the busiest trunk roads within southern Africa.

It links countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi.

Plans are also afoot to tackle the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road which is also on the rehabilitation radar as parts of the highway are now impassable and in the process becoming a danger to the travelling public.

This particular highway is going to be among the busiest roads during this coming festive season and promises to be the best fun-filled passtime holidays as the mood currently being felt is second to none.

Yours Truly sincerely prays that the- powers-that-be might have done some repairs on this road as it is heavily littered with potholes of alarming proportions and sizes, which are also in dire need of attention.

Whoever came up with the idea of filling potholes with gravel deserves some chastisement as such practice is detrimental to the well being of major highways, especially during the current rainy season where the unsupported matter is easily washed away.

Hwange town is mainly known for coal mining and also its adjacency to Hwange National Park, the country's largest animal sanctuary which is also home of The Big Five which are namely elephants, black rhinoceros, lions, leopards and buffalo.

The town is also a gateway to the world renowned and majestic Victoria Falls which is a must visit for holiday lovers due to various pastime activities as well as other related issues.

However, this one hundred kilometre stretch has once again “regained” its status of being unnavigable due to reproliferation of potholes and this time at rather alarming proportions.

Kudos to Yours Truly, who last year wrote extensively about the status of this particular road which was later taken care of in terms of pothole filling and general maintenance. And thus subsequently making it passable to traffic as well as ushering a glimmer of hope to local tourism industry.

Government has thrown its weight towards the rehabilitation and upgrading of Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road as part of ERRP programme as evidenced by Mnangagwa's speech when he recently commissioned the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade project.

“The Second Republic is leaving no one and no place behind. We are a people's government and a government for the people and we will continue to uplift lives and spearhead development in all parts of the country. As I speak, we are in the process of upgrading the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road and I have since instructed the minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development to now shift his focus on the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road since we are almost done with the Beitbridge-Harare highway," Mnangagwa said.

“We want to create dual lanes for the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Victoria Falls Road."

Till we meet again in the next column.

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