By Takunda Maodza
The rehabilitation of Chimanimani is gaining traction with companies contracted to rebuild destroyed infrastructure making serious progress and most of them expecting to complete their work before the onset of rainy season. Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani and Chipinge in March this year, killing hundreds of people and destroying infrastructure worth close to a billion dollars.
Government issued 21 contracts for the reconstruction of road infrastructure and work on installation of permanent structures started last month.
Last Friday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa toured construction sites to get an appreciation of progress so far made and was impressed by what she saw.
Minister Mutsvangwa, who is the Senator for the area, was accompanied by Chimanimani East legislator Cde Joshua Sacco.
She toured Kopa, Peacock and Umvumvumvu Bridge reconstruction sites. At Peacock, Bitumen World has finished work on the Nyahodi Number 2 Bridge and vehicles are already using the infrastructure.
The company started work on the bridge three weeks ago. The company is now working on a 90km stretch of the road that it was also contracted to repair by Government.
In Kopa, which was most affected by Cyclone Idai, the South African National Defence Forces and their Zimbabwe National Army counterparts have also hit the ground running.
They are building two Belly bridges across major rivers. Minister Mutsvangwa was impressed with the level of cooperation between the ZNA and SNDF, which has seen them registering a lot of progress.
The South Africans are upbeat that they will beat the December 31 deadline as all materials required for the construction of the bridges are now on site.
Leader of the SNDF at Kopa Lieutenant- Colonel Delnot Njoko vowed to beat the rains.
“The equipment that we were waiting for came on Monday (last week) and we are making a lot of progress. We are working on these bridges simultaneously so that we can finish our work before the deadline (December 31). We do not want the rains to catch us,” said Lt-Col Njoko.
At Skyline, the company contracted to repair this dangerous site has not done much.
They were no workers on site.
A security guard on site said the company’s workers had “gone for a long weekend since it is month end”.
Interestingly, according to the same security guard, they only came on site on Tuesday and by Friday same week, they had gone to rest.
J.R. Goddard has made significant progress at Umvumvumvu No. 4 Bridge. The company is working on approaches to the bridge washed away by the cyclone. This left the bridge hanging.
Minister Mutsvangwa also visited Ngangu and interacted with victims of the cyclone living in tents.
She was impressed by the pace of repair works in Chimanimani.
“I must say we are very impressed the last time we came here things were not exactly the same as today. There is a lot of work that is happening and we are very grateful to the South African National Defence Forces together with our Zimbabwe Defence Forces who are working on the Belly bridges,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said President Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement efforts were bearing fruits as evidenced by the presence of the SNDF at Kopa.
“I am the Senator for this area besides being the Minister of Information. We are very grateful for what is happening. It is important to have these permanent structures and there is a lot of effort being put. You know here at Kopa and around the Rusitu Valley there is a lot of economic activity. Our people are involved in a lot of commercial farming — bananas and pineapples. We really want to make sure that the roads from here to the market are actually repaired. We are grateful as Chimanimani community. We are very grateful to our President whose engagement and re-engagement efforts have actually reached this extent to see our neighbour coming to do this just shows the good relationship between our countries, our leadership,” she added.
“A lot of people who live around here lost members of their families, but when they see the Government putting in a lot of effort and they see even our neighbouring countries putting in so much effort it gives them a very good feeling to say they are not alone in this problem.”