Source: Bridge repairs to cost US$20m | The Herald 11 APR, 2019
Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Government has been urged to avail more resources for the construction of a multi-million-dollar all-weather bridge at Chilonga in Chiredzi that was swept away by Cyclone-Eline-induced floods in 2000.
Consultants working on the project said the $8 million availed by Government was insufficient to complete the work and end perennial challenges in the movement of communities in the northern and southern parts of Chiredzi.
Chilonga Bridge along Runde River links Chiredzi North and Chikombedzi and movement is a challenge during the rainy season every year as the existing low-level bridge is submerged under water.
Masvingo provincial roads engineer Peter Mukombe said construction of the bridge was affected by economic challenges.
“We were given RTGS$8 million in 2018 and it has proved to be inadequate. We now need about US$20 million in hard currency,” said Eng Mukombe.
The development comes as the Sengwe community has continued to struggle to access services in Chiredzi Town during the rainy season as the bridge is normally submerged up to four months.
Eng Mukombe said they had to find an alternative bridge site which would help lower costs.
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament Cde Kalisto Gwanetsa said the issue of Chilonga Bridge must continue to be treated with urgency as it unlocks more value for the people of Chiredzi districts.
“This bridge, if constructed, will link Chiredzi Town and the rest of Sengwe and Matibi 2 Communal Lands where serious small grains farming is taking place,” he said.
“Secondly, this would be the shortest route to Maputo given that Rutenga is being earmarked for the construction of a dry port, making this route an alternative for haulage trucks transporting goods from Maputo.”
Cde Gwanetsa said the villagers paid more for transport during the rainy season as they were forced to use a longer route.
“The distance between Chiredzi and Chilonga is only 24 kilometres and costs about $3,” he said. “But during the rainy season villagers are forced to use a longer route of about 400km which costs over $50 and that is unsustainable.”
Every year, more than five people die while trying to cross Runde River using the Chilonga bridge or make shift boats.
This year, a Chiwara bus rolled back into the river as the driver tried to go up the slippery banks of the bridge.