Bad roads haunt the area – The Standard
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
As road development brings social, cultural and economic changes to people’s lives in terms of connectivity between places and alleviating poverty, in rural Matabeleland it is a privilege that villagers can only dream of. .
Villagers and transporters pay a heavy price for the poor condition of neglected gravel roads in outlying areas of most districts in the region.
Vehicles suffer from wear and tear as they pass through poor roads transporting villagers from growing points to deep remote areas.
To cover the cost of repairing vehicles, transport operators, mostly pirates, have set their prices out of reach of many, condemning villagers to perpetual poverty.
Zupco, the only government-licensed mass public transport provider, even avoids outlying areas, leaving villagers at the mercy of the few private transport operators.
More misery for the villagers is that the transport operators only ask for payment in foreign currencies, mainly the South African rand, the currency of choice in rural Matabeleland.
A distance between 12 and 20 kilometers attracts up to 40-50 rand.
“Sometimes the transportation industry gets the wrath of the government.
“Travelers tend to be abused, their rights violated and exploited by carriers.
“Currently, rural travelers are overcharged by carriers,” former opposition Bulilima lawmaker Norman Mpofu said.
“The bad state of the roads is invoked to justify such exploitation”.
Vumani Ndlovu, the coordinator of the Rural Communities Empowerment Trust – an independent non-governmental organization based in Lupane, said that with the approach of the rainy season, the situation can only get worse.
“The roads are very dilapidated and we expect the situation to worsen as the rainy season approaches.
“Nothing major is done by the council or the District Development Fund (DDF),” Ndlovu said.
“Considering the difficult economic challenges, costs involved in maintaining vehicles due to poor road networks and bribes that are always demanded by the police, then it can be said to cover all the costs that the tariffs are justified although it greatly affects the ordinary. citizens, especially in rural areas where they are hit hard by economic hardship.
According to Abednico Bhebhe, former lawmaker of Nkayi Sud, there is no hope that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa will prioritize road works for outlying rural areas.
“What I would suggest is a situation where the current government gives up power, or is thrown out of power to put in place a people-centered government; this will ensure that the roads are properly repaired, so that it will be a few years before the roads are deplorable, not that kind of piecemeal roadworks approach that is carried out by the current government, ”said Bhebhe.
“So commuters and transport operators are all victims of a system of poor governance. “
Roads connecting central Nkayi and other outlying areas are in poor condition, as is the main truck route connecting the district to Bulawayo, Kwekwe and parts of North Matabeleland.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona has revealed that about 35 kilometers of the Bulawayo-Nkayi constructed road have exceeded their expected life of two decades, revelations which mean that only 18 km of the 53 km of the road network built so far meet standards.
Construction of the road began in 1996, three years after the completion of the feasibility studies.
Critics argue that the government has never been serious about securing completion of the project, citing the painfully slow pace of road construction.
“During the Smith era, roadworks could be seen from time to time to deal with ripples that damaged vehicles,” Bhebhe said.
“The frequency of resurfacing or graveling the roads is now deplorable to say the least. “