Harare’s ‘flyovers’ structural fault scare

Source: Harare’s ‘flyovers’ structural fault scare | The Sunday Mail June 30, 2019

Harmony Agere
Sunday Mail Reporter

ALMOST all overpasses in Harare, commonly known as flyovers,  have developed structural faults due to lack of maintenance, posing harm to the public if remedial action is not taken urgently, The Sunday Mail has established.

Investigations have revealed that the overpasses, which are found along  Simon Mazorodze, Rotten Row and Lyton roads, have been defective since 2006.

Some of the observed defects include dropping of concrete that has exposed rusted reinforcement steel bars in the beams, a sign experts say, indicates a weakened structure.

The state of affairs was revealed by the Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers (ZIE) president, Engineer Bernard Musarurwa, in a letter to the Office of the President and Cabinet, also copied to Parliament.

Engineer Musarurwa notes that city authorities have been aware of the issue for over a decade, but no action has been taken to address it.

He said an inspection report, by an unnamed engineering firm, at the invitation of Harare City Council in 2006, proposed more detailed investigations to establish the exact nature and extent of the structural faults noted.

However, the recommendations were not implemented by the city, prompting Engineer Musarurwa to launch an appeal with the Office of the President and Cabinet.

“This is the case of the flyovers on Simon Mazorodze interchange with Rotten Row, which bridges were inspected in 2006, and serious structural defects were noted and reported upon, yet no action has been taken to date,” said Engineer Musarurwa.

“Unfortunately, this is not the only case needing urgent remedial action. Other bridges on the national highways have also been inspected and reported upon that remedial action was required.”

Pressed on why the Harare City Council has failed to act on the matter, spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the structural repairs for the overpasses were a responsibility of the Ministry Transport and Infrastructural Development.

He, however, acknowledged that the city was now working with the ministry to address the issue.

“We are aware of the issue, but the flyovers are the responsibility of the ministry of transport,” said Mr Chideme.

“That said, we have approached the ministry and we are working together. I can assure you that plans to address the issue are at an advanced stage.”

Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development director for road maintenance, Engineer Kudzanai Chinyanga told The Sunday Mail that the Government was aware of the issue and had already taken measures to begin remedial work.

“City of Harare drew our attention to the need to look at those bridges because they are highly trafficked,” he said.

“We had an internal inspection and agreed with the report that we had to do something.

“What we have done now, in terms of the action plan, we have had a discussion with Treasury that we would require funding, but Treasury then came back to us to say; ‘have the inspection done, the remedial proposals and cost’, so that they can finance the remedial work that needs to be done.”

Eng Chinyanga said the ministry has since approached the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) on the matter. The whole process of procurement and designing of remedial works is expected to take about eight weeks.

Engineer Chinyanga said after Harare, the Government plans to roll out the programme at  national level.

“We intend to have a programme on bridge inspections so that we know which bridge needs inspection, which is still safe and the remedial work proposed so that on an annual basis we have targeted bridges for maintenance and we can bid for funding from Treasury,” he said.

Ordinarily, bridges are supposed to be inspected yearly, but there was a period when Government departments were only doing basic inspections to make sure roads were trafficable.