BCC requires US$700m for roads rehab

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Bitumen used in the rehabilitation of roads is imported, but due to depleted nostro account balances, road rehabilitation companies are finding it difficult to source the raw material

BY SILAS NKALA/METHEMBE SIBANDA
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it requires about US$700 to rehabilitate its road network, which is in a sorry state following heavy rains that pounded the city in the past weeks.

Most of the city roads have outlived their lifespan and are littered with potholes that continue to worsen during rainy seasons.

Residents have blamed the increasing number of accidents to the heavily potholed roads.

“The state of the city’s road network has been declining due to a large and growing backlog of deferred maintenance programmes attributed to lack of funding for decades. Road infrastructure shortcomings have resulted in increased travel time, rampant potholes, leading to a decline in road safety and high vehicle operating costs,” council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu said.

“The city’s overall road network is approximately 2 400km, with 75% of it in poor condition requiring urgent rehabilitation works, which include overlays and reconstruction works. Approximately US$700 million is required to bring the network to good condition, and to a relatively modest road system.”

Mpofu said in order to ensure that roads are in good condition, they needed to be increased by 15% (360km) in the next five years, with a minimum level of investment to the tune of US$15 million per annum required.

She said traditionally, government allocations through the Zimbabwe National Road Administration and council revenue have been the primary sources of funding for road infrastructure.

Mpofu said budgetary allocations had been inadequate to maintain the road network.

“As a result, the road network has continued to deteriorate due to the gap between maintenance requirements and funding. The annual road budget is traditionally formulated on the basis of a ranking obtained from the latest available road condition survey and the priority is on arterials, collectors, central business district and public transport route roads, she said.

“Council is working to get the required resources to address the road challenges, and several initiatives are being made to secure capital funding for road improvements.”

The city’s road implementation strategy for 2022 will focus on the existing road network, as well as addressing safety concerns.

“The Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme and devolution funding will be used to implement this strategy, which will include premix overlay works covering approximately 18km length of road;  reseal works covering approximately, 20km length of road, reconstruction covering approximately, 13km length of road, and  the upgrading of street lights and traffic lights,” Mpofu said, adding that all roadworks in the city had been halted due to wet ground conditions caused by the heavy rains.

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