By Zwelethu Zikhali
Hwange, September 30, 2016 – TRANSPORT operators have abandoned routes linking Hwange and surrounding villages due to rundown roads.
This has forced villagers to walk distances of up to 20km to access essential services in the coal mining town.
Roads affected include Deka, which links Hwange, Victoria Falls and Binga via Makwa and Jambezi, as well as Makwandara Road which stretches from Hwange to Dete through rural areas in Makwandara.
Villagers told RadioVOP recently that the pull-out by transport operators along the routes has exposed them to private trucks operators who were taking advantage of the crisis to charge exorbitant fares.
Most affected were those who fell ill and required transport urgently to seek treatment in town.
“We used to have Zupco buses on Makwa Road but it has since stopped because of the state of the road,” said Anastasia Lunga from Makwa area.
“We now rely on private transporters who are charging us $7 from Hwange to Makwa which is only 60km away. They charge a similar fare from Victoria Falls to Jambezi which is only less than 50km long and people are forced to walk long distances.”
Those from Makwandara area, said they now pay double what they used to pay, with a journey of about 100km or less costing $10.
“Some of the transporters are now going via Dete and that means we pay double the fare which is now at $10.
“A majority of people who are within 20km from Hwange town have resorted to walking because of the high fares. These private transporters are ripping us off because we are paying an equal fare with someone going to Bulawayo along the highway,” said Simon Tshuma from Dingane area, in Makwandara.
The villagers have accused mining companies domiciled in the area of destroying roads and failing to rehabilitate them.
“We used to have good roads but since these mines came, their trucks have been degrading them without any repair. Who is going to repair the roads for us if these mines just exploit our resources and fail to plough back to the community?”
Some of the mines whose coal carrying trucks are accused of destroying roads are Makomo Resources along Makwandara Road and WKO along Deka Road.
Hwange East Member of Parliament Tose Sansole, in whose constituency the area falls, alleged accused Treasury of selectively allocating resources.
“Most roads are impassable and we are approaching the rainy season which means that people will not be able to travel,” he said.
Sansole said he had tabled the matter to Parliament on numerous occasions but “no-one seemed to care”.
“I have appealed to Treasury before to allocate funds but that has fallen on deaf ears. Sometimes I even fail to visit the constituency because roads are very bad,” added Sansole.
Schools have also been affected as some teachers have avoided some of institutions because of poor road network.