By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council has expressed dismay over its exclusion by central government in on-going road rehabilitation works and fears poor workmanship because of lack of supervision by city engineers.
Government is currently undertaking an emergency road rehabilitation programme across the country to fix the roads that were severely damaged by heavy rains last year.
In its latest minutes, the Bulawayo engineering services department said any road construction contracts should be issued by the local authority to local companies in the spirit of devolution.
BCC has expressed fear of being sued by residents and motorists over poor workmanship in the road rehabilitation programme after firms that are based outside Bulawayo were given tenders to rehabilitate the roads, while local firms were shunned.
Currently, there is little evidence of road rehabilitation works other than patching of damaged roads.
BCC said there had been little movement towards full implementation of devolution as guaranteed by the country’s Constitution.
“Decisions regarding road services should be left to local authorities. Devolution is key to local development. It was the duty of local authorities to provide a list of roads that needed rehabilitation. Local companies should be given such projects to grow the local economy,” the minutes read in part.
“Most of the teams on the ground did not have adequate equipment and signage. There were no council engineers involved. Council did not supervise these works. Council could be sued in the near future if the rehabilitation had not been done properly. Again council would be forced to incur expenses if the works were not completed.”
The minutes showed that deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube did not support patching of potholes by central government.
“There is need to wind off these projects and start afresh after following regulated processes. Central government should have consulted local authorities and hired local companies. Local residents should benefit from this project,” he said.
Mayor Solomon Mguni is quoted in the minutes saying there was need to promote local companies as council would be held accountable by residents for any projects done, noting that the funds used to repair the potholes were from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration.
“As such, central government should have engaged local authorities,” Mguni is quoted as saying in the minutes.
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