The forgotten Karoi-Binga highway

Source: The forgotten Karoi-Binga highway | The Financial Gazette June 23, 2016

Nhau Mangirazi

HURUNGWE — Twenty-six years after government committed to linking Karoi and Binga through a 340-kilometre highway, the venture remains a pie in the sky.
After its construction was commissioned by President Robert Mugabe in 1990, the road was only tarred 30km from Magunje to Chivakanenyama business centre before the project was abandoned with more than 200km yet to be tarred.
And 10km of the tarred 30km is already dilapidated, while villagers have since helped themselves to heaps of quarry stones that were  meant for the road construction.
“The road could have played a major role in advancing tourism in the area,” said 65-year-old Jonathan Masara from the Chivakanenyama area.
“Senior government officials including both Vice Presidents Emerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, and ZANU-PF’s secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, used this unfinished tarred road and we are surprised why none of them even queried about the unfinished project. As much as they were concerned about some dusty roads that were hurriedly repaired during (the June 2015 by-elections) campaign period; as well as drilling of boreholes, why are they turning a blind eye on this sorry state of the road that should have been tarred,” queried a businessman at Zvipani shopping centre, who spoke on condition that he is not named.
During the height of campaigns for the Hurungwe West by-election in June 2015, big names in government and ZANU-PF drove up and down the forgotten highway, drumming up support for Keith Guzah who sought to replace expelled Hurungwe West Member of Parliament and former Mashonaland West ZANU-PF provincial chairperson, Temba Mliswa.
Mliswa stood as an independent candidate and lost to Guzah. In the bruising battle for the constituency, no one mentioned that it has been more than two decades since the Binga-Karoi highway was commissioned.
Some players in the tourism sector believe that if government is selfless, it must work on the remaining 270km and help open the shortcut between Victoria Falls and Kariba, the country’s two most popular destinations.
Upgrading the road would reduce by nearly 300km the distance by road between the two tourist resorts.
“Anyone who wants to travel from Victoria Falls to Kariba has to pass through Bulawayo before connecting to the Harare highway.
“The distance is over 1 000km. It could have made economic sense for the country because the highway would boost revenue for councils through which the highway would pass. Government could have even installed a tollgate in between and boosted its coffers,” said MP for Kariba, Isaac Mackenzie.
Hurungwe Central MP, Godfrey Beremauro, bemoaned the lack of progress on the Karoi-Binga road saying government must priorities the construction and servicing of roads that are key to the country’s economic development.
“It is of major concern for us because we believe a shorter route (between Kariba and Victoria Falls) could have been a bonus for adventurous tourists. We must be innovative in securing better benefits for our tourism sector at all cost. Villagers would also benefit in one way or the other,” added a frustrated Beremauro.
Hurungwe Rural District Council chief executive officer, Misheck Joram Moyo, regretted the lack of progress on the highway.
“With a lot of natural vegetation along the way, the highway meant a great deal to us. Some villagers in Hurungwe and part of Kariba rural are craftsmen and they could have easily raised income by selling their wares to passing tourists,” said Moyo.
Having been at the helm of Hurungwe Rural District Council for nearly two decades, Moyo believes an upgraded Binga to Karoi road would have also opened to the world some of the country’s hidden treasures, such as the Mutambiranwa Falls located about 50km west of Magunje.
A Siakobvu-based tourist guide, Forster Mashiri, said it is regrettable that government is still yet to complete the road.
“If Karoi-Binga road was upgraded on time at least some tourists from Victoria Falls could enjoy free game viewing along the way. We must boost tourism that way. We are appealing to the government to take this project seriously because it has better benefits for communities,” said Mashiri who cut his professional tour guide teeth in 1988 when he was with the Nyaminyami Rural Council. This was the time when the now struggling Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) was at its peak assisting many rural councils across the country with generating additional revenue from their natural resources.
CAMPFIRE benefitted communities through proceeds from animal trophy hunts as well as meat from the killed animals.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 3
  • comment-avatar
    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    Is this news? Have a look at the Beitbridge – Masvingo road, before pontificating on the sad state of the Karoi- Binga road.

  • comment-avatar
    Roberta Mugarbage 6 years ago

    Not to worry. The mbanje from Binga will get to Kariba one way or the other.