via Councils loot Zinara funds | The Herald January 11, 2014 by Peter Matambanadzo
The Zimbabwe National Road Administration has stopped direct disbursements of road maintenance funds to local authorities, alleging that councils were either misappropriating the funds or diverting them elsewhere.
Harare City Council had since accused Zinara of not disbursing funds for road repairs, hence the deplorable state of roads in the capital.
The councils chief engineer (roads) Engineer Jonathan Mutimukulu recently said Zinara only provided US$1,5 million to the local authority and was owed US$5 million.
However, Zinara chief executive Mr Frank Chitukutuku yesterday said they had stopped giving funds directly to local authorities after discovering that road funds were being used for other things.
Zinara has blacklisted seven local authorities for allegedly abusing road maintenance funds.
The blacklisted authorities are Bulilima, Gwanda, Karoi, Marondera, Kariba, Plumtree and Bindura.
Bulilima Rural District Council is accused of misappropriation of funds, while Bindura is said to have failed to meet the prescribed technical standards.
Gwanda, Karoi, Marondera, Kariba and Plumtree urban councils have been blacklisted as the money they were allocated was allegedly used to settle tax dues instead of going to road infrastructure.
It appears all other local authorities are now bearing the brunt of the alleged financial mismanagement of their colleagues.
“Last year we agreed with local authorities, both rural and urban, that distributing money was not giving us value for money because roads were not being repaired,” Mr Chitukutuku said.
He said the authority also looked at the high cost at which local authorities were hiring equipment such as graders, tippers and other earth moving equipment from private companies.
“We discovered that they were hiring the equipment such as graders at exorbitant fees of between US$250 and US$300 per hour. We calculated this and realised that it was better to capacitate our local authorities by buying that equipment for them through the Road Recapitalistion Programme,” he said.
Mr Chitukutuku said since last year, Zinara had acquired 80 graders that were distributed to all the country’s rural district councils.
“As for City of Harare they wanted US$5 million, but we acquired a heavy duty pothole patching vehicle and tippers and other equipment and material amounting to US$1,7 million,” he said.
He said in 2014 under the Road Recapitalisation Programme, all urban councils would get equipment such as graders, tippers and front-end loaders.
“For Harare City we will acquire recyclers, a quarry plant and a pre-mixer. We believe this will make a big impact, which is not just pot hole patching but rehabilitating the city’s roads which have outlived their lifespan,” he said.
Mr Chitukutuku also said when Zinara took over the licencing of vehicles, the system was chaotic but they had since managed to introduce a more effective computerised process.
“The funds collected from vehicle licencing are going towards acquisition of equipment, while money collected from tollgates is dedicated for toll roads. The fuel levy and transit fees are dedicated to the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare Highway project,” he said.
Mr Chitukutuku He said Zinara was collecting licence fees from 575 000 vehicles registered in the authority’s database.
In March last year the then Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development Minister Cde Nicholas Goche, said road authorities were misusing funds allocated by Zinara and as such infrastructure standards continued to decline.
In January last year Government suspended four Guruve Rural District Council bosses for allegedly swindling Zinara of US$35 000 meant for road maintenance.
In 2012 Zinara collected over US$45 million from tollgates. Figures for 2013 year are yet to be released.