Leonard Ncube–Victoria Falls Reporter
ROAD rehabilitation works are at full throttle countrywide following Government’s recent intervention that resulted in the launch of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).
In Matabeleland North, upgrading of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Victoria Falls-Kazungula roads is set to be scaled up as engineers are expected on the ground next week while an in-flight kitchen will be set up at Victoria Falls International Airport.
Cabinet recently declared the country’s road network a state of disaster as most of the roads have become untrafficable due to ageing and damage by heavy rains that were received during the past summer cropping season.
The US$400 million ERRP was recently launched by President Mnangagwa.
Some of the roads like feeder roads in the country are administered by local authorities while the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and District Development Fund share main roads, both tarred and gravel.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona was in Victoria Falls where on Friday he toured the Victoria Falls International Airport, Vehicle Inspectorate Depot, Inland Waters and Central Mechanical Department.
The Minister said the actual upgrading of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Victoria Falls-Kazungula roads will start soon, adding to the pothole patching that has been ongoing.
The two roads are key to the country as they link the tourism capital both to South Africa and Botswana.
Minister Mhona said Government has set all its sights on rehabilitating roads.
“His Excellency said we now have to move with speed especially when it comes to the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme where he mentioned the upgrading of Kazungula-Victoria Falls road and Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
“So basically, I am actually going around with my team trying to assess and understand some of our departments and areas that are under our purview as a ministry,” he said.
“We are actually in full throttle in terms of road upgrade following the launch by President Mnangagwa in Karanda and I am glad to say in all the provinces in terms of road works we have started and we have got teams that will actually be camped in Hwange in the coming week taking charge of Victoria Falls-Kazungula and Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road so that we start rehabilitating.
“We are doing pothole patching but not only that, we are going to be upgrading because we want to give facelift to our roads.
“So, I can say we are no longer in a talk show but we are actually implementing as the Ministry of Transport.”
He said plans are underway to computerise all Vehicle Inspectorate Department depots countrywide to try and fight corruption at the same time enhancing service delivery.
Minister Mhona said the in-land kitchen at the Victoria Falls International Airport will be ready by August, adding to several other on-site facilities at the giant airport.
“As you know Victoria Falls is now a city so we started by touring the airport where we are moving with speed to try and have an in-flight kitchen which is very important so that when we start having our numbers in terms of those who are plying our airport, we will be having the services to cater for fresh meals and this is one of the priority projects that we have to implement soon,” said Minister Mhona.
“We want to see what we can do in terms of going digital. Last month we opened a very important platform in Masvingo where we are saying in order to mitigate issues of corruption we also need to move with speed and try to digitise.
“As for CMED, we are trying to re-brand especially when it comes to fuels as we want a brand that will be known countrywide.”
At the VID depot, the Minister was told that the offices have been operating without electricity since February when a lightning bolt triggered off power while the station still does not have a hill start.
The depot also faces challenges with vehicles while its road network inside the premises also needs upgrading.
At Inland Waters, a department which deals with water activities and registration of boats in the ministry, there are challenges with vehicles while there is need to build new offices and staff accommodation.