Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Government has released $340 000 to the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) as part of the $4,1 million set aside for the municipality’s emergency routine road maintenance programme.
The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) released the money in response to the Government’s declaration that the country’s roads were a national disaster following damages caused by heavy rains.
In an interview yesterday, BCC assistant director of engineering services in charge of roads Engineer Gugu Mkhwananzi said the road rehabilitation programme would be done in three phases.
The first phase started last month and will run until next month.
“The funds stem from a fact that President Mugabe declared the roads a national disaster after the good rains that we received. But those good rains damaged our roads leaving them pothole-littered and damaged,” said Eng Mkhwananzi.
He said a council survey conducted in 2013 revealed that 70 percent of the city’s roads needed to be resurfaced or reconstructed in an exercise that requires $700 million.
Eng Mkhwananzi said as such the $4,1m from Government was a drop in the ocean as council needs at least $70 million a year for road maintenance.
“After the rains, the Government through Zinara allocated BCC $4,1 m for routine maintenance of roads which will be done in three phases. The first phase will be clearing of drains and filling of potholes. The phase is 60 days long. It started on March 13 and is expected to end around May 12. For the whole programme we were allocated $4,1 million and to date $340 000 has been disbursed,” said Eng Mkhwananzi.
He said the first phase would prioritise pothole filling on the city’s major roads.
Eng Mkhwananzi said the second phase, which will focus on resurfacing and refilling, will take up to six months.
He said the last phase would run up to next year as they will be reconstructing some of the damaged roads.
The roads engineer said for accountability purposes, Zinara has already deployed its staff to assess roads that council has identified for rehabilitation.
“We have to acquit for this money, every cent how we used it, what we bought. Already about two weeks ago Zinara officials visited to assess whether the roads we identified for rehabilitation were damaged. And by month end they will come to check whether we are doing the right thing. So we’re going to be working hand in hand with Zinara,” he said.