Sunday Mail Reporter
The ability of local authorities to spruce up roads, especially ahead of the rainy season, has been further enhanced after the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (zinara) injected an additional $1,1 billion to supplement previous disbursements.
The additional allocation pushes this year’s budget to more than $1,5 billion as Government doubles down on efforts to rehabilitate the country’s road network, some of which is in a poor state.
zinara had initially targeted to disburse $512 million this year, but the figure doubled following tariff reviews that saw the road fund administrator surpassing its target by more than 100 percent.
Overall, the new figure is 10 times higher than the $140 million allocated in 2019.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said the current trend shows that the realignment of zinara’s operations to its legislative mandate was paying off.
“Yes, I can confirm that zinara is disbursing a supplementary budget of $1,1 billion to road authorities,” he said.
“This supplementary budget is meant to complement the 2020 budget as the road authorities prepare for the rainy season. The supplementary budget is also coming at an opportune time when most road authorities are struggling to complete scheduled road projects for 2020 due to inflation that eroded their budgetary allocations.
“We believe that the supplementary budget is also going to enable road authorities to undertake routine maintenance works.”
zinara, Minister Matiza added, was strategic in the development of the country’s road network in line with Vision 2030, which is premised on creating a prosperous society.
“For us to have a world-class road network by 2030, zinara should ensure timely and significant disbursements to road authorities. However, it is important to note that improved disbursements are tied to the collection of meaningful tariffs by the road fund administrator. I urge motorists to comply with the law and pay their vehicle licence fees if we are to construct a road network that meets international standards.”
There are growing concerns some road authorities were not using their disbursements on time and stalling critical roadworks in their jurisdictions.
Government continues to exhort local road authorities to outsource expertise from zinara, especially in circumstances where they might not have the much-need capacity, in order to expedite roadworks.
“President Mnangagwa has put road infrastructure development on top of Government’s priority list as a key economic enabler. As such, road works in all provinces should be accelerated to ensure that we meet the targets of Vision 2030. I am happy that zinara is doing all to capacitate road authorities financially. Due to our strategic location in Sadc, Zimbabwe can be a regional transport hub if we work together with a common vision,” said Minister Matiza.
The Government is investing a lot of resources to rehabilitate the country’s road network to smoothen trade and commerce and improve living standards in communities.
The countrywide Visual Road Condition and Inventory Survey, which was bankrolled by zinara in 2017 and carried out by the country’s road authorities, including the Zimbabwe Local Government Association (zilga), indicated that 30 percent of the total road network is “in poor to very poor condition”.
However, of the 98 000-kilometre road network, 40 percent (39 000km) is in fair condition, while 17 percent (16 000km) was good and 8 percent (7 913km) was very good.
Since 2018, extensive rehabilitation work has been taking place around the country to bring the roads to a modern and trafficable state.
Harare City Council spokesperson, Mr Michael Chideme said the local authority this year faced difficulties attending to the roads because of price variations associated with an inflationary environment, including late disbursement of funds.
“Council remains hopeful that zinara would increase disbursements so that more roads in the city are repaired,” he said.