Fifty-five contractors and nearly 11 000 people have so far been hired countrywide to conduct works under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2), bringing joy to communities along the roads not just for decent communications but also for the large number of job opportunities with contractors hiring local people.
Under the second phase of ERRP2, the Government is resealing 1 290km of roads, reconstructing 427 drainage structures, and working on 24 830km of erosion rehabilitation and drains across the country.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is also working with local authorities as the implementing agent in carrying out the roadworks under ERRP2.
Cabinet had declared the country’s road network a state of disaster to allow central Government to step in ahead of local authorities, especially municipalities which generally have high levels of independence.
Across the country there is a hive of activity on roads with both arterial and suburban roads being rehabilitated and upgraded as part of the country’s modernisation drive, taking into account the centrality of infrastructure in industrialisation towards attaining Vision 2030 for Zimbabwe to become an upper middle-class economy.
Addressing editors and reporters after a media tour of the Beitbridge Border Post recently, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said the Government was impressed with the progress achieved so far, adding that under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, no one and no place would be left behind in terms of development.
“Following the launch of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2), we have been all over the country refurbishing our roads that had been destroyed by incessant rains while others had suffered sheer neglect by the responsible authorities.
“Having visited several ERRP2 projects and various other transport infrastructure projects around the country, we are impressed by the progress registered thus far and teams on the ground are excited by the employment opportunities created for them.
“To date, we have engaged 55 contractors under ERRP 2 and have hired 10 870 contract workers,” said Minister Mhona.
Critically, it is local companies that are leading the construction of roads after President Mnangagwa took a deliberate policy to engage local industries, in the process helping them retool and take part in the industrialisation and modernisation of the country embracing his mantra “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”.
“The transport infrastructure sector is awash with opportunities for you to tap into, with opportunities worth US$200 million presented in 2021, US$120 million in 2022, and US$80 million earmarked for 2023 under ERRP2 alone.
“Clearly, there is enough value being injected into the market for all contractors to participate and benefit, with US$1,3 million having been saved as a result of contracting locals on the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare Highway.
“At this juncture, let me pause and pay tribute to our colleagues in the media. Not even a single day passes without reading a story on infrastructure development. This is commendable and we urge you to keep up that spirit,” Minister Mhona said.
He said in line with the Government mantra of “leaving no one and no place behind”, towards Vision 2030, the focus has now shifted to dilapidated roads in suburbs long overlooked by oft inept local authorities.
“As a ministry, we are empowered to take over roads from road authorities and this is exactly what we are doing to ensure accelerated development.
“Let me take this opportunity to also thank Zinara under the leadership of Dr Munyaradzi George Manyaya, within a short space of time they have managed to change things at Zinara. All the road works that you see are solely being financed by Zinara and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
“This year they had set aside $17 billion for disbursements, much of which has already been used by the road authorities. To ensure that more quality road works are undertaken, the funders will continue to relook at the budgets for road authorities.
“Furthermore, I am also pleased by the transparent way they now conduct their business. At every turn, they are publishing the amounts they would have disbursed. We hope that the new look Zinara keeps the fire burning,” Minister Mhona said.
He said the organisation recently held its 2019-2020 Annual General Meeting and has held integrity committee workshops in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, and all have commended the new work culture and work ethic at Zinara with CEO Mr Nkosinathi Ncube and his team cleaning up the mess left by the previous management.
“Corruption is an anathema to the Second Republic’s work programme and culture. Surely, Zinara has taken a bold stance against this vice. I am happy that several people within the organisation were either dismissed or arrested for their involvement in corrupt activities,” said Minister Mhona.
Zinara has also managed to come up with several interventions to manage congestion at tollgates and processes were underway to migrate from tollgates to toll plazas.
“This is our permanent solution at the tollgates, and this is a project which will be soon rolled out by Zinara working together with the Department of Roads. This project will also encompass the upgrading of the current tolling infrastructure to toll plazas. While the new Zinara has reverted to its core mandate and is no longer involved in awarding of contracts, I want to appeal to road authorities that they should engage reputable contractors,” said Minister Mhona.
In interviews, local communities, that are the major beneficiaries of the construction boom that has changed the road network in Zimbabwe, said jobs are coming in handy.
In Rutenga area, the ERRP2 programme came as an employment opportunity for locals who are now employed by companies working on the highway.
The workers, however, preferred anonymity since they must get clearance from their employers before speaking to the media.
“We got employed as a result of these projects and we are now able to send our kids to school,” said a resident.
Another man who was recently employed in Mwenezi area said, “I was unemployed and struggling to make ends meet but when the contractor moved in to work on this portion of the road we got employed.”
A Chivhu resident, Ms Barbra Sithole, said a lot of people were also getting employment under the ERRP2 programme.
“From my understanding under the ERRP2, the contractors contracted by Government are employing locals in areas they are working and this is a good move which will also benefit a lot of people,” she said.
Mr Samuel Foya who lives in Mvuma said many people were now putting food on the table after getting jobs.
“Creating employment for the people will also improve the quality of the work they will be conducting since they will also put more efforts on projects with a view that they will also use these roads and infrastructure for themselves,” he said.
Mr Steven Mhondiwa said he hopes the contractors will continue creating more employment opportunities for the people since ERRP2 was ongoing.