BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO councillors are agonising over the city’s measly road maintenance budget for the remainder of the year saying that with the rainy season setting in, the city’s already bad road network will be virtually unnavigable.
The city’s road network continues to deteriorate due to age and lack of maintenance.
A road survey conducted by council showed that nearly 80% of the city’s road network required heavy rehabilitation and reconstruction.
“Current available budget was $306 517 [including committed costs]. “As a result, the department was struggling to purchase or procure any road repair or construction materials.
“This would have adverse impact on the state of the road network when the rainy season starts,” reads the council environmental management and engineering committee report.
That the situation is made worse by the constant breakdown of ageing plant machinery such as graders and fuel shortages. ”
According to the report, not even a single road was regraded in August due to shortage of diesel and plant breakdowns.
“Planned programme (road maintenance) was progressing slowly due to constant breakdown of plant coupled with erratic supply of diesel. Generally, council’s plant and equipment has outlived its economic life and graders hardly work for three to four consecutive days without a breakdown.
“Procurement of plant and equipment was adversely affected by lack of foreign currency,” the report added.
“With new plant hire rates approved by Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, the current funding levels were unable to sustain the new rates, thus grader was US$120 per hour, which translates to about RTGS$2000 per hour.”
Light showers that hit the city in the past two days have left some roads with potholes, a common feature in the country.
Last year, council was forced to turn to individuals, community groups and companies for road maintenance work, pleading that they volunteer to rehabilitate roads under an “adopt-a-road” concept.
City fathers said such arrangements could be afforded through an ‘adopt-a-road’ concept, which they argued will also save ratepayers millions.