While remarkable progress had been made in modernising the country’s roads, some projects are dragging on for too long, with the motoring public losing patience in some instances and opening up sections that would have been closed for refurbishment.
As a result, a number of uncompleted and detoured road projects that have been prematurely opened for traffic by impatient motorists are now in a worse state and the costs of redoing them have since ballooned.
The situation is likely to worsen during the rainy season, especially in Manicaland given that most areas are expected to receive good rains.
The Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2) seeks to address the poor state of the roads given their vital role in economic development.
However, some projects in Mutare, Rusape, Chipinge and Nyanga have been abandoned by contractors midway, resulting in impatient road users vandalising and removing the detours.
In Mutare, the Magamba Road has become a thorn in many motorists’ flesh as very little progress has been seen in the past year.
In September, frustrated motorists removed barricades along the road for easy access to the Manicaland Agricultural Showgrounds.
However, following the intervention of some authorities, the barricades have been put back in place.
Nevertheless, road users are using some incomplete sections of the road.
In Rusape, impatient road users removed barricades along the Magamba-Highveld Road, half of which was near completion.
Residents also removed detours along the Vengere Loop Road where gravel had been heaped along the road.
Motorists are currently using the two roads without anything being done to secure stretches that had been prepared for tarring.
In Chipinge, the contractor is stalling on the Chipinge-Mt Selinda Road, while the same is being experienced along the Odzi-Marange, Murambinda-Birchenough Road and Nyanga-Rwenya Road.
Secretary for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Edgars Seenza said he was forced to engage the contractor doing the Magamba Road in Mutare to ensure detours were put in place to avoid redoing the sections that had already been done.
Mr Seenza said the road projects are not only meant to trigger economic growth, but to also improve public services, trafficability of roads, as well as attract investment and foreign currency generation.
He said Government wants to ensure value for every coin spent on all the country’s road projects.
Mr Seenza called upon contractors and local authorities to abide by the rules and ensure that all projects are completed in time.
He said timelines need to be adhered to as this loophole is being utilised to vary project costs.
“Why should we have situations where road users open up roads that are not yet complete under the watch of local authorities? That happened in Mutare (Magamba Road), but action was taken. I engaged the contractor and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to put in place the measures to avoid unnecessary expenditure. We need to avoid redoing what would have been done already.
“In Mutare, they succeeded in doing that, and I do not see why that cannot be done in Rusape. The stakeholders in Rusape should explain what is happening and why we should incur that extra expenditure in redoing sections that had already been rehabilitated,” said Mr Seenza.
Provincial Roads Engineer, Engineer Kudzi Maganga said some road projects in Manicaland stalled after contractors failed to perform and meet set deadlines.
“Initially, Magamba Road (Rusape) had been detoured, but impatient road users removed the detours and there was nothing we could do about it,” he said.
Engineer Maganga said they are in the process of re-advertising and engaging other contractors.
He said dubious contractors could lose their projects if they fail to deliver as Government is bent on providing citizens with value for money.
“We could retain contractors based on their level of competence. Where we feel they have not performed, Government will revoke the contract and award it to other contractors. They will not participate in future Government projects. We are in the process of re-tendering the works and that is a setback,” said Engineer Maganga.
“Some of the contractors we had engaged failed to do the job, and we have to engage other contractors who will take up the work from where the projects were left and complete them.” – Manica Post