BY SILAS NKALA/ NIZBERT MOYO
NKAYI residents have expressed concern over the delay in the rehabilitation of Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, saying that government lacked commitment and political will to develop the district.
Residents, during a virtual discussion on the state of the roads in Nkayi, including the Bulawayo Nkayi Road, questioned why it was taking long to rehabilitate the road.
The meeting was hosted by Anastasia Moyo, a businesswoman in Nkayi and local farmer Mqondisi Ndebele.
Ndebele said rehabilitation of Nkayi Road started in the 1990s by a company from Kuwait.
“After that it was never clear whether the roads were being repaired by the State,” Ndebele said.
“Once the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road becomes usable, business in Nkayi will boom. When an area has roads, this creates investments and jobs,” he said.
Ndebele said once complete, the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road would benefit other districts such as Lupane, Tsholotsho, Gokwe, Kwekwe and even Harare.
“We must relentlessly demand that we be included in the budget. We need to have a record of these engagements for reference purposes. We must not be satisfied with being given a general response when it comes to Bulawayo-Nkayi Road,” Ndebele said.
Other participants appealed to legislators in Umguza, Bubi, Nkayi, and Gokwe to work together in pushing for the completion of Bulawayo- Nkayi Road.
A resident, Arthur Moyo, said Members of Parliament should be vocal in demanding completion of the project.
In April, Transport deputy minister Mike Madiro told MPs that the Nkayi road construction project had been put on hold as funds allocated for the project in the 2021 budget had been diverted.
“The national road network was declared a state of disaster and all funding that had been allocated for road construction has now been reallocated towards road maintenance. This means that the project will not be implemented in the immediate future, but will resume once further funding is availed by Treasury,” Madiro said.
Construction of the road began in 1993, but three decades later, less than 50km have been resurfaced.
Government cited funding challenges for failure to complete the project within set timelines.
In a related development, Matobo’s ward 11 Mbembeswane councillor Joel Ncube bemoaned the dilapidated state of the roads and bridges in the area.
“Our Mbembeswane Bridge has become a death trap after it developed some cracks in 2018. Three villagers have died while trying to cross the bridge. This happened between 2018 and 2020,” Ncube said.
He said the Zondani Road also needed urgent attention, adding that villagers had been contributing labour and cement towards the reconstruction of roads and bridges.
“There are four schools in the ward and most of these roads connecting to schools are in a poor state, for example, the Mbuso-Gubula Road.
“We are told that some of them are not registered by the Matobo Rural District Council and they have promised to register them so that they can start to work on them,” he said.
Ncube said in a quest to repair infrastructure in the area, villagers were paying development levy.
Matabeleland South District Development Fund provincial co-ordinator Moment Malandu said a budget was unveiled for the repair of roads. He, however, did not disclose the budget.
“There is a budget for the repair of roads, and only major roads are yet to be rehabilitated. Currently, we are experiencing challenges in the acquisition of equipment.
“We hope the equipment hire rates that have been reviewed will motivate contractors to agree to come to Matabeleland South province which is considered to be remote,” Malandu said.