Peter Matika, firstname.lastname@example.org
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has announced that it will in the next few weeks start surfacing works for the Matshobana section from Mpopoma Avenue to Nketa Drive and the road works are expected to last for three weeks.
The latest development comes at a time when local motorists have been pleading with the local authority to expedite the rehabilitation of Luveve Road as they are having a hard time using it.
So bad is the road that a two-lane section stretching from Rio Turn-off to the traffic lights in Matshobana Suburb and another near Renkini have been closed to traffic for repair.
The local authority created detours at the closed-off sections, forcing traffic to and from the city centre to use one side of the road, causing traffic jams during rush hours.
To avoid the nightmare, most motorists have resorted to using Khami Road to get to the city centre from the Western suburbs, also causing chaos.
In November last year, the Government ordered BCC to fix the road after the potholes on it had become death traps.
The once smooth Luveve Road, like most of the council’s 2 400km road network, is now in a very bad state.
Motorists were hopeful the road would be fixed quickly after council shut down parts of it in January and announced rehabilitation would take about 90 days.
In a statement yesterday, the town clerk, Mr Christopher Dube said the original scope of works for Luveve Road in the vicinity of Renkini Country bus terminus has been adversely affected by unforeseen ground conditions, which include dilapidated leaking reclaimed water, sewer pipes and collapsible expanse clay.
“The leaks appear to have been ongoing for years unnoticed and have soaked a significant area of the road formation/sub-formation. Currently there are seven reclaimed water mains within a 200m distance that have been exposed and confirmed,” he said.
Mr Dube said five additional locations are being investigated to determine the source of water accumulating within the excavations.
He said the presence of reclaimed water and sewer mains was costly to the programme with the discovery of underground services ongoing.
Mr Dube said as a result the construction team is unable to quantify and put an exact figure for the additional cost of the works and extension time.
“The city’s construction team will continue working on the Renkini section and advise on the expected completion date once the scope of works is clearly defined in terms of the buried services such as reclaimed water mains.
“Every effort is being done to speed up the completion of the works, and to ensure disruption to traffic, businesses and residents is kept to a minimum,” he said.
“However, the continued road works will inevitably cause some disruption and for this the City of Bulawayo wishes to apologise once again.”
Yesterday, Bulawayo councillors and engineers toured the construction site to have an appreciation of the project whose completion is long overdue.
BCC also announced a 10-hour night road closure of Luveve Road from Waverley Street to Ngcebetsha Road/Nguboyenja Road which began yesterday at 8.30PM and ended this morning.
Mr Dube said the closure was meant to facilitate the excavation, bedding, pipe laying, and backfilling of the sub-soil drainage system and pavement reinstatement.
He said council has made every effort to ensure disruption to traffic, businesses and residents is minimised.
In January, the BCC embarked on a three-month rehabilitation of some sections of the road that were now impassable due to potholes.
The rehabilitation works were supposed to be done within 90 days, but due to incessant rains, the project has taken longer than expected.
BCC is on record saying that 70 percent of its road network has outlived its lifespan.
The authority requires about US$700 million to fix the roads.
Work on the road comprises pothole patching, pavement construction, overlays, reinstating of carriageway markings, drainage and other general maintenance work.
In a report, BCC said it requires at least US$9 million to completely overhaul the entire 9,2km stretch of Luveve Road.
BCC identified the areas between Waverley Street and Intemba Drive in Old Luveve and set aside US$1,2 million from its internal revenue streams for the project.
Luveve Road is one of the priority roads that the council intends to rehabilitate. Others include Khami, Steelworks, Matopos and Wellington roads.
Government, through the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) disbursed $93 billion to the four road authorities, which include the Department of Roads, Rural Infrastructural Development Agency (Rida), and urban and rural district councils.
In February council resolved to pull out of the Government’s Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme Phase 2 (ERRP2) and also threatened to approach the courts with the hope of securing a court order barring the Central Government from taking a lead role in the implementation of the programme in Bulawayo.
BCC also queried the criteria used by Zinara in the disbursement of funds, and also sought to recover outstanding amounts from previous allocations through litigation.
Councillors accused Zinara of delaying in fund disbursements and lacking transparency.
However, in a dramatic climbdown following advice from council management, councillors have decided to abandon their plans for a legal action.
Under the ERRP2, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development is working with local authorities as the implementing agent in carrying out road works.
In Bulawayo, 65 major roads were named for rehabilitation including Siyephambili Drive, Fife Street, sections of Cecil Avenue and Khami Road, George Avenue and 23rd Avenue. The roads are now smooth for drivers after they were rehabilitated in 2021.
Cecil Avenue has been earmarked for rehabilitation from Bulawayo-Harare Highway to Hillside Road stretching 6,5km.