Desperate Masvingo Councils Turn To Investors For Road Rehabilitation

By Itai Muzondo

Masvingo – In a sign of despair to the rapid dilapidation of  roads, councils in Masvingo province have turned their hopes for relief to willing investors who wish to provide funds for the rehabilitation of roads which have deteriorated to alarming levels.

In a bid to facelift the sorry state of roads in the country’s oldest city and its surroundings, Masvingo City Council implemented a controversial ‘road levy tax’ to ratepayers which faced stiff resistance as it was fixed with a three dollars payment per month on their monthly water bills for which the City Fathers were looking to raise US$270 000 by the end of July meant solely for road development.

Recently, Chivi rural district council cried foul on Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) pertaining their neglect of the road connecting Gweru and Ngundu as a major highway which cross-border transporters from Gweru to South Africa frequent as potholes are common site on the highway.

Of all the districts in the province, Chiredzi has the worst road networks regardless of being home to some of the giant farming industries in the nation such as Tongaat Hullet, Triangle and the Mkwasine Sugar Estates with the local council also expressing their concern over the dilapidating state of roads.

Masvingo councils have however been left with no viable alternatives other than to abide by possible investors’ conditions if they are to fully rehabilitate the roads from their own coffers though mixed feelings have emerged in a bid to serve political wills to a larger extent as most of them wish the roads to be named after themselves after completion of the projects according to a survey carried out by Radio VOP.

The Masvingo city council revealed that, Micheal Taderera, a private individual is willing to rehabilitate ‘Makahamadze Street’ in the city’s Mucheke Surburb at his own cost. Council welcomed  Taderera’s efforts and stated that it would not tolerate any form of liability from his side on completion of the project.

Whether this would entail the roads being named after the sponsors is still not clear. A source who preferred anonymity revealed that councilors were largely against the idea in fear of having their political images overshadowed.

The council minutes read, “Application by Taderera to repair Makahadze Street, Mucheke Suburb be accepted subject to the works being carried out under Council supervision and the benefactor making no future claims against Council for the assistance rendered”.

“Whether these roads would be named after them is still not clear as it has emerge a burning dispute amongst councilors who fear having their political images overshadowed by such deeds in a community to the extent that council is debating on giving such individuals media coverage upon completion of their helping projects,” said a council source who denied to be named.

In an interview with Radio VOP Masvingo Mayor Hubert Fidze said council is on a high note towards implementing the drafts of the controversially implemented ‘Road Levy Tax’ though he said council would welcome individuals who would be willing to help in the ongoing road rehabilitation on a condition that they would not make claims against council in the near future.

“We are now at a high note towards implementing projects which are meant to rehabilitate our roads through the council’s engineering department. This exercise would make use of money from the road levy exercise though as council we welcome individuals who would like to help rebuild our roads on conditions that they would not make further claims in the near future,” said Fidze.

Chiredzi Town Council from their previous full council meeting has however accepted that an investor who wanted to remain unidentified until council passes resolution should resurface the town’s longest road, ‘West Road’ for US$180 000 on a condition that it is named after him.

Speaking in the full council meeting, Chiredzi Town Secretary, Charles Muchatukwa welcomed the investor’s proposal and was full of praise for him..

“We welcome the investor though his or her identity is not known at the moment. It is a good thing for our town to have people with such depth minds,” said the town secretary.

On the same note, Chivi Rural District Council Chief Executive Council, Tariro Matavire said Parliamentarians in the drought stricken district have done a lot in maintaining roads considering that they are working on own expenses though he expressed that well-wishers are quite welcome to contribute to road rehabilitation programs as the council is largely depended on ZINARA funds “Parliamentarians here have done a lot to resurface feeder roads and I consider it hard work since they are using own funds.

“As council we however do not shun well-wishers as we largely depend on ZINARA funds which only facilitate the renovation of few roads.” said Matavire.

Meanwhile, The Standard newspaper in its editorial once called for the government to declare the state of roads a national crisis as they claimed that a total of two hundred lives lost during the festive season were due to the bad state of roads around the country. The paper also noted that potholed roads have impacted very badly on motorists as damage to vehicles is now a perennial problem.