EASTERN NEWS | Govt secures highway rehab funding
From daily news
Government has secured funds from ethanol maker Green Fuel to repair the badly-damaged Tanganda-Chiredzi highway, Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo said.
He told authorities in Manicaland last week not to “raise issues” anymore for the maintenance of the 80km stretch.
“Funding of the Tanganda-Chiredzi road has been secured. It’s now water under the bridge,” Gumbo said, before revealing that the source of the funding was actually Green Fuel.
He said government was going to fund the rehabilitation of 30km of the road with Green Fuel funding repair of the rest.
The ethanol producer is likely to cough-up millions in the deal that is seen by analysts as involving some arm-twisting.
However, locals have for long been demanding that the firm take full responsibility for battering the road and must finance its repairs.
Laden Green Fuel haulage trucks use the road to move sugarcane from their fields in Chipangayi to its plant in Chisumbanje daily.
The road is also burdened by heavy vehicles from travelling from Mutare to Masvingo and South Africa, following the ban of trucks weighing over 30 tonnes over Birchenough Bridge.
The road is so bad such that it limits speed to 20km/hr and has caused many accidents.
Gumbo said Green Fuel was singled out to help with the repairs because they were the ones who were also damaging the roads.
“They are the ones who use the road… and it is part of their corporate social responsibility,” Gumbo said.
He said this was, however, one of the issues government was hoping to address in the first 100 days of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Gumbo said government had no resources to attend to all the badly damaged roads which he said were over 90 percent of the country’s 100 000km road network which require $5,5 billion dollars.
He said the country’s tollgates were not collecting enough revenue to meet the funding requirements for road infrastructure.
Meanwhile, government has ruled out rehabilitation of the iconic Birchenough Bridge — a key tourist attraction — noting that it would be less expensive to erect a completely new bridge with a bigger carrying capacity.
Gumbo told road authorities in Manicaland last week that while repairing the bridge which is currently limiting passage to vehicles that do not exceed 30 tonnes and is being used as an alternate one way passage would cost $35 million while a new bridge would cost $40 million.
He said government was opting for a completely new bridge, as they would be unable to broaden the iconic arch bridge to allow for smooth flow of traffic.
“Birchenough Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the country. We need about $35 million to renovate the bridge or $40 million to build another on the side, as the bridge is very narrow.
“So I would want to pose a question on whether we should renovate or build a new bridge?” Gumbo said.