The government says Bulawayo’s road rehabilitation project is being slowed down by lack of capacity in contracted companies and skilled manpower.
A number of Bulawayo roads have remained in bad shape despite the government launching the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Project (ERRP) in 2021.
ERRP was launched after President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the country’s roads a national disaster.
In Bulawayo, city fathers have accused contracted companies of poor workmanship as potholes quickly emerged on some of the rehabilitated roads.
City fathers have also accused government of sidelining the local authority and its engineers in the roadworks.
Bulawayo permanent secretary for provincial affairs and devolution Paul Nyoni, however, said lack of capacity and skilled manpower has stalled the city’s roadworks.
“When the ERRP started, there was a massive demand for civil engineering services right across Zimbabwe,” Nyoni said.
“Everyone who is a road authority was on the market tendering for services.
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“However, you will find that some of the roads remained untouched for long periods of time as the contractors struggled to mobilise skills as well as equipment.”
Nyoni added: “There was also a second challenge with some of the smaller and newer contractors where they needed to be paid upfront when the principle was ‘do the job first and bring the invoice”.
A leaked council report from the engineering department revealed that city fathers were not pleased with the progress of ERRP, which they felt was being imposed upon them by the government.
The report further shows that the contractors abandoned at least 13 roads out of 65 major roads under unclear circumstances.
According to council reports, Bulawayo’s ERRP2 allocation for the year 2022 was $338, 232,413.70.
At least 65 major roads across Bulawayo were earmarked for rehabilitation under the ERRP2 at an approximate cost of $625 million.
Some of the roads to be rehabilitated using the Zinara funds include Fairbridge Way (Philips to Cecil Drive), Huggins Road (Luveve Road to Police) Woodville Park, Luveve 5 Road, Maduma Dr (Intemba to S J Ngwenya Shops) and Murchison Road where the council is set to conduct overlays and reconstruction.
Council is on record saying that 70% of its road network had outlived its lifespan hence it requires about US$700 million to fix the roads.
The local authority set aside US$14 million to rehabilitate the city’s potholed roads under its 2024 budget.