BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development has expressed concern over the funding gap for the Transport ministry, saying it would affect reconstruction of roads.
This was revealed in a report on the 2021 National Budget presented recently in the National Assembly by committee chairperson Oscar Gorerino (Zanu PF — Shamva).
“The committee notes that the road infrastructure sub-sector requires major funding, taking into consideration the backlog in maintenance and rehabilitation of the major roads,” Gorerino said.
“Continued sidelining of roads results in further deterioration of the infrastructure and this eventually leads to increased funding requirements,” he said.
Gorerino said, to date, there were a number of bridges and roads that were damaged by heavy rains, but had not been repaired because of lack of funding.
“The committee notes that there is need for funding for the upgrading and rehabilitation of infrastructure and services towards efficient systems for business and the public, particularly roads that do not attract investment,” the committee said.
Transport management required officers to be mobile during inspections and patrols and there is need for funding provision for the Roads Department to replenish its vehicle fleet to allow for smooth operations.
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Gorerino said his committee had noted that the under-investment in the rail sector would make it difficult to achieve the National Development Strategy One (NDS1) goals.
“The 2021 budget targets the reduction of the cost of transportation to 4,5 cents per tonne per kilometre rate for freight in 2021 from five cents in 2020, which will ease the burden on the road networks as well as reducing the costs of transportation of goods and services. On the other hand, the target under the NDS1 is to increase the proportion of track meeting set standards,” Gorerino said.
He said the revival of the national rail system was vital, as it was the cheapest way to transport agricultural produce, minerals and other heavy cargo.
Gorerino urged the Finance ministry in the interim, to provide adequate resources for maintenance works to allow the existing infrastructure to aid business.
“There is also need for the completion of the search for partnerships for institutions such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd for the recapitalisation of the entities,” the report said
He recommended the speedy conclusion of the proposed reforms of these institutions given the importance of rail and air transport.