ENGINEERS are back on site and work on the rehabilitation of the 158km Bulawayo-Nkayi Road has resumed as the Second Republic steps up efforts towards completing outstanding major projects in Matabeleland North province.
Developing sound road infrastructure is one of the critical enablers towards achieving set targets under the National Development Strategy (NDS1), the Government’s five-year economic master plan, which spans 2021 through to year 2025.
The upgrading of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, which had become untrafficable and a death trap, has ignited excitement among locals and business leaders who have commended Government for implementing the project.
So far only a stretch of about 50km has been widened and tarred over the years with the remainder of the road linking Turk Mine and Inyathi area in Bubi District up to Nkayi Centre yet to be worked on.
Under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, Government is scaling up
rehabilitation of major roads across the country and Nkayi Road is one of them.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited the stretch under rehabilitation and observed road works being done from Bulawayo up to Cross Matapa.
The 15km stretch leading to Badala Business Centre in Inyathi is being widened and detours have been created with part of the road having been re-gravelled. Mr Lindani Ncube, a transporter plying the Bulawayo-Inyathi route said: “For years, this road has been terrible and accidents were common. We applaud the Government for
embarking on this project, which will go a long way in addressing our plight as motorists given that it was untrafficable.”
Ms Nomsa Ncube of Inyathi said most public transporters plying the Bulawayo-Nkayi route had pulled out citing the poor state of the road.
“This is a positive development for us as locals because most transporters were pulling out of the route resulting in the few operators capitalising on the situation by charging exorbitant fares. We urge the government to continue with this project up to Nkayi.”
Mr Kingdom Sibanda, a transporter plying the Inyathi-Nkayi route said he was forced to park his car for several months due to the poor state of the road.
“I have been transporting people from Inyathi to Nkayi for the past three years until last year when I stopped after my kombi was grounded due to the state of the road. With what is happening now I am looking forward to fixing my car and resuming business,” he said.
Ms Essie Mbambo said the road has created employment for locals.
“My son got a job as a result of this project and to us as the local community it is a positive development. Some transport operators are charging exorbitant fares because of the road and we hope with the rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, more players will come in and alleviate transport shortages,” she said.
Bubi Rural District Council chief executive officer, Dr Patson Mlilo, said the rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road will help attract investment in the district.“This project is indeed a welcome development for us as Bubi RDC as it will attract meaningful development. For investors to invest in a particular area, they need accessibility and we hope through this project, we will be able to atttact new investment and boost our economy,” he said.
Government has said the upgrading of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road is a top priority as it responds to stakeholder concern that the project has taken too long to complete after it was started in 1993 with an initial completion date set for 1999.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo commended Government for releasing funds to repair the road.
“We have started working on the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road and so far, we have covered a 14km stretch from where we had left up to Ngwigwizi Bridge and by end of the year, we would have done another 20km until we eventually get to Nkayi,” he said. “The road is one of the key roads in the province with a lot of economic activities
revolving around mining and therefore it is important for us to give it top priority.”
Minister Moyo said President Mnangagwa’s Government wants to see the region being developed in line with the national thrust.
“We want to express gratitude to President’s Mnangagwa’s Government for allocating
funds for the rehabilitation of that road,” he said.
Matabeleland North provincial roads engineer, Engineer Stephen Kamutema said road reconstruction is being done under the Phase Two of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme.
The road rehabilitation programme is said to have created at least 20 000 jobs and contributed to improved economic activities in the construction sector country wide.