Harare-Beitbridge Road a lethal death trap

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The Harare -Beitbridge Road project is delaying, may be because it was over-specified and is likely to become a white elephant

SEVEN haulage trucks were grounded along the Harare-Masvingo Highway after their drivers hit potholes and lost control.

BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

The dualisation of the Harare-Masvingo Highway has remained unimplemented for years, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people due to the ever-deteriorating state of the road
The dualisation of the Harare-Masvingo Highway has remained unimplemented for years, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people due to the ever-deteriorating state of the road

At various spots, where the road has become terribly bad, there were queues of hazard flashing light motor vehicles, which were forced off the road after losing tyres to the ever-widening potholes, that are now a common sight.

With potholes on the narrow road, driving along the Harare-Masvingo Highway has became a nightmare.

Last Thursday night the traffic increased exponentially on the ever-busy highway, as Zanu PF members headed to the country’s oldest city, Masvingo, for the party’s annual conference.

Vehicles meandered, as they negotiated their way through the pothole-infested highway that links Harare to its biggest trading partner, South Africa.

“How did you find your way here? The road is terrible. Potholes are all over, especially around Featherstone,”
frustrated Zanu PF members could be heard saying the following morning, as delegates awaited the official opening of the conference by President Robert Mugabe.

“I called Jorum Gumbo (Transport minister) advising him to see what he could do to have the road fixed. Urgent action should be taken. Did you see those haulage trucks that were involved in accidents?

“They went off the road after hitting potholes on the narrow road,” another said.

“Edson Takataka (Zanu PF Harare provincial youth chairperson) is stranded on the road. He lost two tyres to a pothole.”

The Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway, long on government’s agenda for dualisation, is in a poor shape, causing the deaths of hundreds of people due to the ever-deteriorating state of the road.

Motorists had hoped the introduction of tollgates on the country’s major roads in 2009 would correspond with an improvement of roads, but alas, the situation has continued to deteriorate.

Last week, Gumbo signed an agreement with a Chinese contractor worth almost $3 billion for the dualisation of the road, but the motoring public feels government is moving at a snail’s pace.

“There have been concerns about the condition of the road. The situation got worse two days ago due to the rains,” Gumbo told the Zanu PF delegates in Masvingo on Friday.

“As we speak, the guys are working on the road and when you go back home, the road will be fine.”

Gumbo’s claims that potholes surfaced only two days back were, however, contrary to the reality that the road had been developing potholes for over a month, but was unattended to by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration.

His admission that the road was terrible is, however, possibly the first time a Zanu PF member has acknowledged that something was wrong and needed attention, away from the usual rhetoric of blaming Western-sponsored sanctions.

Two weeks ago, this reporter lost two tyres close to Chaka, about 60km towards Masvingo, after plunging into a pothole and a week later, had to brave a whole night rescuing a colleague at Featherstone, after he too lost two tyres to the same menace.

NewsDay observed enterprising and unemployed youths setting up tyre repair workshops under trees near the hot spots, where they are recording brisk business.

“Last night I repaired more than 20 tyres,” one of the youths identified as Simbarashe, who has set up a tree roadside workshop, told NewsDay last Thursday.

“The situation is bad. Yes, we are making money, but we feel sorry for motorists.”

Cosmas Chigwada, who was travelling from South Africa, lost a tyre to a pothole and said the situation needed urgent attention to save lives.

Chigwada, who had his children on board, was stranded for more than six hours and accused the government of a lack of seriousness, for not valuing lives and neglecting the busiest road, putting people’s lives in danger.

“We are approaching the festive season, where people travel. With such a road, how many people will die?”

Statistics have shown a rise in traffic accidents during festive seasos, with the government quick to blame negligent driving to justify a heavy police presence, while not commenting on the condition of the roads.

Statistics show that the death toll on the roads has been rising every year from 1 037 in 2006.

The narrow highways have also increased accidents due to side-swapping.

Gift Taderera, a traffic safety officer, last year observed that poor road infrastructure was causing many accidents, while urging all stakeholders to take a holistic approach that should start with the maintenance of roads.

32 COMMENTS

    • yeah i hear you but beitbridge road is more strategic in bringing foreign currency and also connects major towns. if i were to complain of the road to our rural area then everyone complains as well we will rather close the country or the powers that be will be inundated to do anything.

  1. And the monkeys who were going to pee in Masvingo from Harare saw that road but went on to say we want a life president who is Mugabe. All their resolutions are centered on Mugabe, what if he dies today they change the resolution?

  2. Actually if all motorists should sue Zinara to foot all the costs of repairs to the vehicle, the recovery of the vehicle and the replacement of tyres.

  3. dzavo mota dzakasiyana nedzedu dzemubhero. vanongotsika vachienda ko handi vakutenga pa15 billion iye? wakaona dzakauya zvino zvino here?

    • Somebody trying to weave tricks and crooks to make huge chunks of money out of motorists’ desperate situation. Tollgates and zinara are irrelevant. They are just like police spot fines. They are not for the public’s utilisation.

  4. lets have patience and wait for the new gvt to come.The current one is just busy taking our money to Singapore for our only leader since independence and buying facken expensive personal goods

  5. The roads and rail network are in a very sorry state of disrepair. So are schools and hospitals.
    Running water , for many, is just a pipe dream.
    Industry has virtually ground to a halt.
    Meantime, Grace is splurging almost $7 mill on trinkets.
    And the Zimbo can only manage a meow.

  6. Well well kana naivovo be ZANU vàkatonono pamusangano nemhaka ye ma potholez kuda pamwe there might be so of urgency on thiz problemz

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