FINANCE and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, has said the upgrading of the 158km Bulawayo-Nkayi Road is a top priority among key infrastructure projects being championed by the Government in Matabeleland North province.
He admitted that the road project has taken too long to complete after it was started in 1993 and was supposed to be completed in 1999.
Only a stretch of about 50km of the road has been widened and tarred over the years with the remainder of the road linking Turk Mine and the Inyathi area in Bubi District up to Nkayi Centre yet to be worked on.
Under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, Government has scaled up rehabilitation of major roads across the country and Nkayi Road is one of them.
In a recent interview in Bulawayo, Prof Ncube said the Government was committed to speeding up construction of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road saying the citizens’ concerns were justified.
“We have roads such as the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, which are on the programme for upgrade and we will ensure work is sped up given that some of these projects have taken too long to complete,” said Minister Ncube.
He said there was progress in the rehabilitation works but was not fast enough and attributed this to resource constraints due to competiting priorities.
“But I want to assure the citizens that we regard the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road as one of the critical road projects that must be completed as soon as possible to improve the road network in the region.
Prof Ncube explained that several other rural feeder roads were in a bad state like the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road and will be worked on.
“There are also other roads such as the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road, again it’s on the radar. We have allocated sources where again work will begin to make sure that there is progress on that road,” he said.
“Going across we have the Kwekwe-Nkayi Road-Lupane Road that cuts across. That road is being looked at in terms of upgrade and going forward this is a critical road that will cut the distance from Harare-Midlands-Vic-Falls quite considerably.”
As a short term measure the Government has since August been doing maintenance and rehabilitation of Bulawayo-Nkayi Road through grading and pothole filling after it was damaged by heavy rains received in the last cropping season. The rehabilitation works are being done under the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).
The development has brought relief to motorists and commuters who have been complaining that the road is now in a terrible state thereby exposing them to accidents and higher vehicle repair costs.