The emergency road repairs and rehabilitation being undertaken by the Government are now moving into the suburban roads in high-density suburbs, which have been neglected for years by inept and corrupt urban councils.
For most of last year and leading into this year, the focus of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase 2 was on major roads, the arterial roads leading into city centres and the major roads connecting suburbs. This saw major work on highways such as Seke Road, Robert Mugabe Road, Chiremba Road and Masotsha Ndlovu Way across southern Harare.
In most suburbs, the basic road network is in even worse condition than the arterial and connecting roads, having been neglected longer and in some cases since the suburb was built in the colonial era.
Most of these roads were designed for light use, and as vehicle ownership increased and often densities increased the roads quickly fell into disrepair, with many no longer even having a tarred surface.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Felix Mhona, said the urban local authorities entrusted to manage roads were sleeping on duty.
Municipalities had a great deal of independence for many services, and were supposed to build and maintain their road networks. To get round this legal restriction and so take effective action, the Government had to first declare urban roads a state of disaster.
“The city councils have neglected roads. We are taking over. We give them money and they have no excuses. We are going into locations to fix potholes. Local authorities must not waste taxpayers’ money. We will rehabilitate the local roads,” he said.
Minister Mhona highlighted the plan to extend the ERRP2 last week in Harare while fielding questions from journalists following the appointment of additional board members of the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara).
Many of the major roads in urban areas linking suburbs that had fallen into serious disrepair have now been fixed by the emergency programme delivered by the central Government.
The once potholed and very busy Seke Road and Masotsha Ndlovu Way have largely been reconstructed as they are properly converted from quiet suburban roads to the major southern arterial road and the major southern ring road. Both were not properly rebuilt when assuming their new functions and heavy traffic.
Prince Edward Street and Connaught Road, basically the same road running north through Milton Park to Avondale, were upgraded to world class standards.
Ardbennie Road in the industrial sites linking Seke Road to Mbare is among the roads that have been fully repaired and then resurfaced with road markings completed.
On Pangula Road, the Chikurubi Prison access, 3,2km have been completed and surfaced while there was progress along Robert Mugabe Road including major road repairs amounting to virtual reconstruction on a 1km stretch, and road resurfacing and shoulder widening, road markings, construction of bus stops and repainting of street lights on the rest of the major road leading into Mutare Road.
Work on major road projects under the Second Republic is also ongoing, even during the rains, as the Government modernises road infrastructure.
Among the roads undergoing major work is the busy Harare-Beitbridge road and the continuing phased dualisation of the Harare-Mutare highway is also now in its next stage with the 6km stretch from Melfort set to be completed by mid-February after the Government released US$5 million for the latest phase.
Meanwhile, Minister Mhona challenged the Zinara board members to provide proper leadership in a way that is sustainable and inclusive, pursuing the objectives of integrated economic, social and environmental performance, including taking into consideration the needs of stakeholders.
Zinara is in effect a tax collector, collecting the licence fees for all vehicles and the tollgate fees and then channelling this money to the road authorities.
“Zinara has over the past decade transformed into a crucial business player which has caused significant impact in the economy, particularly in the key sector of transport infrastructure and development thereof. Zinara is a major employer, provider of crucial licensing services and procurers of goods and services, which significantly contribute to the growth of the economy as an indispensable enabler,” said the minister.
Minister Mhona said transparency was a top priority for the board when administering a public fund, not lagging behind their private counterparts operating in the similarly placed environment.
“In fact, you must keep abreast of developments in corporate governance emerging practices which enhance transparency and accountability such as integrated sustainable reporting and formulation of simplified guidelines, which are based on openness, disclosure and multi-stakeholder involvement,” he said.