COSMAS Nyaruwata (48) leaned against his truck pondering the next move after its two rear tyres had burst along the pothole infested Marondera-Cross strip road.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Nyaruwata, a successful trader who sells tomatoes in Nyanga, was travelling from Mutoko where he had gone to buy the produce for resale.
“This is a double tragedy. I have used a lot of fuel to transport these goods to Nyanga and here I have a double puncture. I pray that government repairs the Rwenya Bridge to make my trade easier. The bridge has been a thorn in the flesh for me and several others. We are now connecting Mutoko and Nyanga via Marondera or Macheke and this is tiresome and expensive,” he said.
Nyaruwata is one of Mutoko and Mudzi villagers failing to access Nyanga district where they sell goods and agricultural produce after Rwenya Bridge, which links the two areas, was destroyed by heavy rains in 2013.
The 800m bridge also links Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces with areas like Nyanga, Mudzi and Mutoko being immediate beneficiaries. The people are now accessing both areas either using the Marondera and Macheke routes.
Heavy floods swept away the bridge during the 2013 rainy season but the responsible authorities have turned their backs away on the critical infrastructure that has thousands of lives depending on it.
Speaking during his inaugural visit to Mashonaland East since his elevation to the vice presidency, Constantino Chiwenga reflected on how people in the area have suffered for a long time following the destruction of the bridge.
“There is Rwenya Bridge that was destroyed by cyclone Japhet about 10 years ago. Nothing has been done to reconstruct it, why? I spoke to the (provincial) minister (David Musabayana) about that. The people who want to go to Mudzi will do so via Marondera or Macheke. I have ordered that it should be taken care of. I am going to be hands on and make sure that it is going to be repaired,” he said.
The areas of Murewa, Mutoko and Mudzi are well-known for their reputation as horticulture farmers who specialise mainly in the production of tomatoes, and vegetables while those on the other side in Nyanga North are into potato and fruit production.
However, the state of the road and the destroyed bridge has hindered trade between the two provinces, while those still persisting have to use alternative routes which has become expensive and automatically result in prices of the goods to rise.
Mutoko East legislator, Ricky Mawere confirmed that life has become unbearable for the villagers, whose lives depend on selling agricultural produce.
“Mutoko East constituency borders Nyanga and there is no link between the two because of the bridge. Before Rwenya Bridge was swept away, people from my constituency had pleasure crossing into Nyanga. Nyanga is just a stone’s throw away but people now have to travel via Rusape, Headlands or Macheke to access the two areas. The situation is not economical and tenable. I raised the issue in Parliament before, but no solution yet. Government should find a lasting solution to this,” he said.
The Rwenya River cuts across the two areas where gold panning activities are rife. A number of vendors make a living through selling wares to panners on both sides. Apart from business being affected, travelling is now a daunting task to most villagers. The brave ones do risk their lives through the use of canoes.
Transport and Infrastructure Development minister, Joram Gumbo recently said government is aware of the situation and urged the responsible local authority to forward a budget to the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) for the rehabilitation of the strategic bridge.
Mashonaland East resident minister, David Musabayana said they are currently running around, so that they will come up with the cost of constructing the bridge before taking it to government.
“There is need to address the Rwenya Bridge issue. I tasked (Jonathan) Samkange (Mudzi South lawmaker) to come up with the cost before I take it to the Vice President (Chiwenga). We are expecting to solve the problem as soon as possible,” he said.
The effects of climate change have been felt across the country with experts proposing government to unveil a climate change fund that will be used when disaster struck.
The country has been hit by successive droughts and cyclones with the latest being Cyclone Dineo that left a trail of disaster last year.
Last season, a number of children were killed, marooned and injured while schools and other important infrastructure were destroyed.
In 2000, the country experienced the Cyclone Eline induced floods that also left a trail of destruction with a lot of villagers still experiencing its effects up to date.
During the floods, a total of 136 deaths were reported in Zimbabwe while 59 184 houses and huts were destroyed, 14 999 toilets carved in, 538 schools and 54 clinics were damaged, 230 dams burst while a total of 20 000 head of livestock were lost.
The tropical cyclone which first appeared on February 9 and lasted until about March 2, 2000 was described as the worst in 50 years.
Of late implementation of promises by government has been a problem and to Nyaruwata, the trouble continues. He hopes that one day life will return to normal and that the rehabilitation of the bridge will be done soon.