Ex­pe­dite road re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to curb car­nage

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

ON Satur­day, a hor­rific ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing three haulage trucks along the Bu­l­awayo-Vic­to­ria Falls Road claimed the lives of four peo­ple. One of the trucks, which was trav­el­ling from Zam­bia to Bu­l­awayo, is sus­pected to have sideswiped with a truck coming from Bu­l­awayo be­fore col­lid­ing head on with the sec­ond one, which was also coming from Bu­l­awayo.

The ac­ci­dent, which oc­curred at the 82km peg in In­suza, sparked a fire which burnt one of the driv­ers be­yond recog­ni­tion. The Bu­l­away­oVic­to­ria Falls had to be closed tem­po­rar­ily for two days as there were fears that a gas tanker that was in­volved in the ac­ci­dent could ex­plode. It was fi­nally opened to traf­fic at 2AM on Mon­day. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the cause of the ac­ci­dent are un­der­way although there are strong in­di­ca­tions of hu­man er­ror on the part of one or two of the driv­ers.

How­ever, the ac­ci­dent shines a spotlight on the ur­gency of the need to up­grade the coun­try’s high­ways to curb ac­ci­dents. Zim­babwe’s roads are now old and too nar­row to cope with the in­creased flow of traf­fic over the years. Most of them re­quire up­grad­ing, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and du­al­i­sa­tion.

The Gov­ern­ment has em­barked on a phased re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of its trunk roads with a deal to du­alise the Beit­bridge-Harare-Chirundu high­way hav­ing been sealed. Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dr Jo­ram Gumbo last month signed a “frame­work agree­ment” with an Aus­trian con­struc­tion firm Geiger In­ter­na­tional and a Chi­nese Com­pany, China Har­bour En­gi­neer­ing (CHEC), set­ting the stage for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, du­al­i­sa­tion and up­grad­ing of the high­way.

The deal will also see the up­grad­ing of Harare Drive into a ring road. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the project will be­gin soon through a com­bi­na­tion of Build Op­er­ate Trans­fer (BOT) and Loan fi­nanc­ing mod­els. The sec­tion from Beit­bridge to Harare will be im­ple­mented as a BOT, with a con­ces­sion pe­riod of 20 years, while the sec­tion from Harare to Chirundu — in­clud­ing the Harare ring road — will be im­ple­mented as a com­bi­na­tion of a loan and pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment con­trib­uted by CHEC.

The Gov­ern­ment has also com­pleted the fea­si­bil­ity study for the du­al­i­sa­tion of the Beit­bridge-Bu­l­awayo-Vic­to­ria Falls Road and ten­ders to in­vite prospect fun­ders have been flighted. Un­der­lin­ing Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing that the coun­try’s roads are traf­fi­ca­ble de­spite the lim­ited re­sources, work is also un­der­way to up­grade sev­eral other roads among them the Guyu-Manama road in Gwanda South. We re­ported yesterday that the Manama tarred road will now ex­tend to the new Mlam­bapheli Bor­der Post to ease ac­cess to Botswana for trade and fam­ily visi­ta­tions.

The con­struc­tion of the more than 20 kilo­me­tre stretch from Bethel to Tuli Bridge is be­ing funded by the Min­istry of Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment.

The up­grad­ing and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of roads is part ef­forts to re­vamp the trans­port in­fra­struc­ture which is a piv­otal ve­hi­cle to so­cioe­co­nomic growth as it en­hances move­ment of goods and peo­ple. The trans­port sec­tor fa­cil­i­tates eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, and ac­cess to lo­cal, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets within the Sadc re­gion and be­yond. We are aware that the big­gest chal­lenge that Gov­ern­ment faces is short­age of fund­ing to im­ple­ment var­i­ous road pro­grammes but pri­or­ity should be given to this sec­tor.

The na­tional road de­vel­op­ment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme re­quires $5 bil­lion over the next five to 10 years, that is, about $500 mil­lion an­nu­ally but the al­lo­ca­tion given to the Trans­port min­istry from both Zi­nara and Trea­sury in 2015 was just over $6 mil­lion. This means that the short­fall has to be off­set us­ing other sources of fund­ing. Be­sides the re­liance on toll­gate fees, Gov­ern­ment has been de­vel­op­ing other ways to ad­dress the fund­ing prob­lems that were be­ing faced by the coun­try in terms of in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment.

For in­stance it has em­barked on an ex­ten­sive Build-Op­er­ate-Trans­fer road pro­gramme in which most of the coun­try’s pri­mary roads will be put out to ten­der on a BOT ba­sis. It is also look­ing at im­proved fund man­age­ment by Zi­nara to pro­vide more al­lo­ca­tion to the road pro­gramme.

We sin­cerely hope these ini­tia­tives will bear fruit and al­low for in­creased road ac­tiv­i­ties in the next few years. In the mean­time, we urge au­thor­i­ties to en­sure that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ma­jor road projects that are al­ready un­der­way goes ahead unim­peded and with haste.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.