A TOTAL of 65 major roads across Bulawayo are being rehabilitated under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase Two (ERRP2) at an approximate cost of $625 million.
The US$400 million ERRP, which was launched by President Mnangagwa, is running countrywide and is premised on the fact that roads are the networks that promote beneficial social and economic activities through ensuring a smooth flow of goods and services.
The ERRP is part of the myriad of infrastructural development programmes that Government has instituted that contribute towards achieving Vision 2030 of having an upper middle-income economy. Government is racing against time to ensure all roads under the ERRP are complete before the rainy season starts. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development’s Department of Roads and Bulawayo City Council are jointly rehabilitating the roads.
According to a report dated August 12, the road rehabilitation works will cost $625 million and the works include pothole patching and overlays, resurfacing and resealing which have commenced on about 38 roads across the city. The report shows that some of the roads had been completed while works have not started on 27.
The roads that have been completed include Athlone Road, Athlone/Dawson Road, Ngena Road and Luveve Road from 6th Avenue Extension to Intemba Drive, which have been fully patched. Some of the roads have been resurfaced including between 12th and 13th Avenue along Tongogara Street.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday observed a team from the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED), which has been contracted by the Department of Roads, repairing a section along 10th Avenue between Fort Street and Herbert Chitepo Street. Siyephambili Drive is one of the roads that is under construction and it is expected to be complete by the end of September.
Sections of Old Khami Road, Khami Road, Dundee Drive, Cecil Drive and Indaba Road are among the roads that are yet to be repaired, although they are scheduled for rehabilitation. The road authorities are attending to procurement issues on roads that are yet to be rehabilitated.
Siyephambili Drive has been partially closed to pave way for rehabilitation but when the news crew visited the site yesterday, motorists had removed barricades and were using the road. The road is being rehabilitated by CMED. Siyephambili Drive is one of the important roads as it connects several suburbs and is a gate way for motorists travelling from Victoria Falls to western suburbs and Plumtree Road.
Motorists expressed mixed feelings over the ongoing rehabilitation works, with some saying progress was too slow. A motorist from Emakhandeni suburb Mr Julius Ndlovu said he felt the “slow pace” of the road rehabilitation was justified.
“There is no point rushing to complete rehabilitating the roads but end up doing shoddy jobs. It’s better for those involved in road rehabilitation works to take their time but at the end come up with a perfect product. We don’t want to see these roads being potholed within a few weeks after being repaired,” said Mr Ndlovu. Another motorist Mr Nkosilomusa Khumalo said road authorities should speed up rehabilitating roads that they have started working on. Mr Khumalo said for instance, Siyephambili Drive, has taken too long to be completed.
“This road is closed but they are not doing anything. People are getting frustrated that is why you see these barricades being removed to access the road because there is no progress. People are struggling to move as you see nothing is happening on site yet there are so many motorists that need to use it,” said Mr Khumalo. Another motorist and kombi driver, who identified himself only as Mr Sibanda, said using feeder roads has become too risky for commuter omnibus operators.
“While we appreciate the need to rehabilitate this road, they should have repaired it in segments. But they opted to do it all at once which is now causing challenges for us as drivers. “They should have partially closed the road as we are forced to use feeder roads that pass-through houses. This increases the risk of being involved in accidents and we hope that they would speed up the processes so that we start using this important road,” said Mr Sibanda.
Two weeks ago, Transport and Infrastructure Development Deputy Minister Mike Madiro said Government was racing against time to complete ERRP2 before the rainy season commences. “It was observed that the ERRP implementation started slowly due to procurement challenges but this has since been resolved. It is true that when the season sets in, it is going to slow down our ERRP programme. The ministry and various stakeholders are busy making sure that we speed up the process of work to ensure we beat to an extent the rainy season.
“There are many interventions that the engineers are employing including the bulk procurement of materials for use in the various projects to ensure that the materials are in place and they are no downtimes in terms of the implementation of projects around the country,” said Deputy Minister Madiro.