MASVINGO — Waving red cloths tied to tree branches, scores of Chivi villagers form a human chain along the meandering Masvingo-Chivi Highway with their own picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and home-made rammers to fill in potholes that have seen the tarred road resemble any other ordinary feeder dust road in rural areas.
One would think they were officials from the Transport ministry, yet these are ordinary villagers who have taken the initiative to repair their public roads.
In turn, some kind motorists stop by and give them a few alms in appreciation.
Such is the state of decay of the country’s roads that it has prompted villagers to take over what would ordinarily pass as government’s responsibility to repair and maintain the road, constructed way back in the early 1980s through a Chinese grant.
“We have seen several cars getting involved in head-on collisions along this road after one car hits a pothole or veers off the road,” said a villager, Ephraim Madyangove, rubbing off sweat from his brow with one hand and a shovel in the other hand in the sweltering heat common in the area.
He added: “Despite several appeals to the authorities to fill in the potholes, there was no response. So we decided to take it upon ourselves to fill in the potholes. It is our area we want to develop. Even if we were to ignore this, it is us who will suffer as transport operators will shun the route owing to the bad state of the roads, leaving us to walk many kilometres to catch lifts to town.”
Several other villagers could be seen doing the same along the tarred road that branches off the Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway and links the hot and arid Chivi Growth Point.
Chivi district administrator Bernard Hadzirabwi lauded the villagers for complementing the government.
“It is true that the villagers have started to repair the roads. They are voluntarily doing it and we appreciate very much their efforts as you know that the Transport ministry maybe incapacitated at the moment given the economic situation bedevilling the nation,” Hadzirabwi.