LOCAL Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has admitted government ignored warnings by the World Bank as far back as 2012 on the state of bridges and dams across the country, most of which have now been washed away by this year’s Cyclone Dineo-induced rains.
Source: Govt bungled, slept on duty: Kasukuwere – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 7, 2017
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The minister made the admission in Parliament last Thursday when he was asked by Binga South MP Joel Gabbuza (MDC-T) to explain if the bridges that have been washed away were ever inspected before the rains hit them.
“When the Meteorological Department announced that this year there was going to be normal to above normal rain, it simply meant that we should have prepared.
“Were these bridges inspected because even up to now we are likely to have more bridges collapsing?” Gabbuza queried.
“I have been to Gwayi River Bridge, one of the longest and biggest bridges. Its two pillars cracked three years back and as you drive over it now, it has already sagged, and it is the same with Mlibizi River Bridge, one of our biggest bridges.”
Kasukuwere conceded that some of the bridges that had become dilapidated due to the rains had actually been condemned in a World Bank report as far back as 2012.
“With regard to dams which have given in or given way — yes, if my memory serves me well, from a World Bank report of 2012 which spoke about dam safety conditions in the country — indeed, quite a number of our dams that have actually collapsed in the past two days were noted and mentioned.
“I am happy to say that even with that challenge or tragedy happening, the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) and various authorities are on top of the situation,” Kasukuwere said.
In his ministerial statement, Kasukuwere told the House that the worst-affected district was Tsholotsho where a total of 859 people were left homeless and are currently in a transit camp while an additional 100 households were at risk. More than 1 985 people countrywide were left homeless.
“About 246 human lives were lost due to drowning and lightning strikes, and 128 people were injured and approximately 2 579 homesteads were damaged.
“There was extensive damage to about 74 schools, five health institutions, about 70 small and medium dams have breached and extensive damage to road infrastructure,” said Kasukuwere.
He said in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, more than2 500 houses were at risk of collapsing, and more than 500 old houses were facing the same fate in Mabvuku.
Lupane West MP Martin Khumalo (Zanu PF) said government had not taken action to avert the disaster early since 2009 in Tsholotsho and Sipepa area, as the floods were a recurrent feature, adding ministers could have also visited Tsholotsho as they did with other affected areas.