COMMUNITIES are now enjoying benefits of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2), as roads previously shunned by motorists are being restored.
The rehabilitation programme has helped ease transport challenges for villagers and improved access to various services such as clinics and business centres.
President Mnangagwa launched the US$400 million ERRP2 to improve the country’s road network, which had been in a deplorable state following last season’s heavy rains.
The ongoing road projects involve pothole patching, grading, regravelling, spot dumping, wash away repairs, culverts construction, reseals and rehabilitation.
The ERRP2 has created jobs for hundreds of people working on the different projects.
Villagers from Matabeleland South Province have expressed satisfaction at the development ushered in by the ERRP programme.
They’ve urged Government to expedite completion of the programme so that as many roads as possible are covered before the rain starts.
Ms Sinikiwe Dube from Silima Village in Mangwe District, where Silima-Empandeni Road has been graded, said before the works transporters were refusing to use the route.
“Before the road was graded we were struggling because transporters did not want to divert from the main road and use the road as it was in bad condition. We had to drop off at a bus stop very far from our village and then walk a long distance. Now that the road has been graded, transporters are now using the road and we are able to drop off at our village,” Ms Dube said.
Mr Cosmas Nyathi from Nyandeni area in Gwanda District said it was now easier for him to drive every day to Mtshabezi Business Centre where he operates a grocery store.
He said the road used to be in poor condition, making it costly for him to drive on it, as he had to constantly service his car.
Mangwe Ward 1 Councillor Bernard Tshuma said maintenance and rehabilitation of roads under the ERRP programme will result in significant development being realised in communities.
He said it will help boost economic activities by easing access to health care services, education and agriculture, among other sectors.
“Lack of infrastructure such as bridges and roads is what is holding back economic development in some areas, and if this is addressed, it will go a long way in eliminating poverty. We applaud Government for the ERRP programme, as it will go a long in improving road networks in our areas. If it’s possible, may bridges also be attended too as soon as possible so that all areas hindering development are addressed. As it is, in some areas children fail to go to school when it rains because we don’t have bridges and vehicles get stuck,” he said.
DDF Matabeleland South provincial coordinator Mr Moment Malandu said they were targeting to rehabilitate 2 485km and so far 1 000km has been rehabilitated.
Mr Malandu said they were facing challenges in securing contractors, as DDF equipment was still being repaired.
“If we were using our own equipment as DDF, we would have made a lot of progress in rehabilitating roads under ERRP. There are some contractors that were enlisted by Government, but they can’t carry the entire task and we need more contractors. Government has since flighted an advert inviting suitable contractors to come on board,” he said.
Mr Malandu said they also needed supervision vehicles, as the province was big and they were only relying on one vehicle for supervision.