Villagers reclaim gully to save bridge

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A group of villagers is seen carrying some rock boulders from a nearby hill to the bridge. They have all left their day-to-day chores and braved the chilly weather all in the name of serving the community.

By JAIROS SAUNYAMA

Environmental degradation has been threatening Chivake bridge that connects the southern part of the rural community and Murewa centre where villagers go for a number of services.

The Murewa Ward 16 community, with the assistance of their local council and Environmental Management Agency (EMA) have joined hands in reclaiming gullies that have washed away a bridge that links their area with Murewa centre.

Speaking to NewsDay recently in Murewa, one of the community members involved in the initiative, Shorai Kunaka, said considering that the clinic and other critical services were accessed on the other side of the bridge, they had to team up and save the situation.

“Those from the other side of the bridge will not be able to visit Murewa centre to access district offices and other services if this bridge is washed away,” Kunaka said.

“We took it upon ourselves to make our lives easy, development begins with us the villagers.

“The women from the surrounding villages had to carry the stones while the men had to construct the slab to block further erosion. Some villagers refused to take part, but those who came forward did that for the benefit of everyone.

“People from the five wards are horticulture farmers and they use this Chivake bridge to transport their produce to Murewa and Harare.”

A gully is a channel or small valley, especially one carved out by persistent heavy rainfall. It can also be defined as a small valley originally worn away by running water and serving as a drainage way after prolonged heavy rains.

To save the bridge and road from being washed away, the villagers had to fill the gully and plant vegetation to stabilise the banks.

shorai kunaka

Murewa council environmental officer John Serere said his council’s environmental committee identified this community project to be of strategic importance and revealed that they had to work on a tight budget for the better of the community.

“We received $2 000 from EMA which we used to buy mesh wire and cement, and the community has been providing labour by harvesting stones from surrounding hills,” he said.

“It is good that the villagers understood the whole concept and we are happy that they have successfully stopped the massive gully that was threatening to destroy the bridge.”

He added that they provided food for villagers who were working on the project.

EMA representative for Murewa district Reuben Mufori said they chipped in with help following an application from Murewa council environmental committee.

“We saw it necessary to reclaim this gully that was threatening to wash away the bridge that links Murewa Ward 16 to the town centre,” he said.

“I want to applaud the work done by the Ward 16 villagers from the councillor and the village heads. They committed themselves and worked tirelessly without any form of monetary incentive.

“Their total request is in excess of $6 500, but to date we have provided $2 702.”

District administrator Maxwell Mabhuro said filling of this gully was very important because it links people from the southern part of Murewa in areas such as Mushaninga to Murewa centre.

“We applied to EMA and they considered this project and gave us the first grant which was around $800. Later they added
$2 000 to ensure that the project continues, but still the community did not complete the project. Council has since applied for another $2 800 to complete the whole gully reclamation project,” Mabhuro said.

With government operating on a shoestring budget, the initiative by Murewa villagers to undertake community development projects is indeed a move to emulate.

Today, the responsible villagers stand tall and are community heroes.

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