By Burzil Dube
THE issue of potholes on the country’s major roads continue to be a talking point among the travelling public and general populace amid calls to urgently address this lingering distressing phenomenon.
On the other hand, a state of disaster was recently declared by government and specifically meant to address the deterioration of Zimbabwe’s road network.
Yours Truly, recently had a brief, but fruitful interview with Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu on the status of the country’s roads.
Ndlovu expressed optimism that the much-talked-about pothole menace would soon be a thing of the past and he certainly did not mince his words concerning this topical issue.
The minister also admitted that he recently came across potholes on his way from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo after attending the Covid-19 vaccination official launch.
To those who are not in the know, this particular road leads to one of the country’s prime resort areas of Victoria Falls, which is also popularly known in the Lozi lingo as Mo-sioa-Tunya, which generally means “the smoke that thunders”.
This place could gradually become hindered by state of the road, over which Ndlovu also expressed his optimism that this “will certainly be a thing of the past” as the responsible ministry was in the process of attending to these pothole issues.
The responsible ministry that he meant is Transport and Infrastructure Development, which is in charge of all the country’s major highways and has of late been receiving some flak for obvious reasons.
The Zimbabwe National Roads Adminstration (Zinara), which falls under the purview of this particular ministry, has also of late been accused of wanton tariff increases under the pretext of road infrastructure maintenance. However, the situation on the ground would be diametrically opposite.
Accusations are that roads have continued to degenerate to alarming proportions where potholes have “graduated” into mini-ponds and in the process become hazardous to the travelling public.
The situation becomes more detrimental during the rainy season.
This is the time for Zinara to try and up its ante if it is to be taken seriously by the same travelling public that also encompasses Yours Truly. It is public knowledge that poor road maintenance is slowly proving to be a dent on the country’s tourism industry.
Trunk roads have also not been spared and hence their special identification tag as they play a very important role in linking Zimbabwe with countries within the southern African region. Their importance within the transport and communication sector is beyond doubt and needs to be handled with utmost care.
However, as earlier alluded to in this column by minister Ndlovu that all this might be a thing of the past, Yours Truly recently witnessed some “activity”along the Hwange-Victoria Falls road where thorough patching of this trunk road is meticulously taking place.
The workmen’s handiwork was professionally executed and this literally left Yours Truly gaping with awe and this was an indication that serious business was indeed taking place along this epic road.
The travelling public will certainly be left without any iota of negative perception concerning this busy highway.
It is Yours Truly’s fervent hope that similar programmes are also being carried out in other provinces where comparable issues are also being encountered. Such impediments need to be addressed with utmost urgency if the hospitality industry is to rise from Covid-19 ashes like the legendary Phoenix.
It is also public knowledge that this is one of the industries that are currently under intensive care due to this global pandemic.
Much has been said about these troubling potholes focus now and shift to another topical issue: Covid-19 passports.
Soccer fans could soon be allowed to enter the British soccer stadiums and watch their favourite teams upon producing a valid Covid-19 certificate or passport.
Yes, you read correctly: No Covid-19 certificate, no entry.
According to Anadolu Agency, a Turkey-based news website, indications were that Wembley Stadium could be used as a Covid-19 vaccine passport trial centre.
The proposed matches where trial passports could be put to the test are the Leicester City versus Southampton FA Cup semifinal to be played on April 18, the Manchester City versus Tottenham Hotspur Carabao Cup final on April 25, as well as the FA Cup final on May 15.
It remains to be seen if the particular Covid-19 passport would be put on a test run basis as fans have been on the losing end since the advent of this global pandemic.
If such a test comes to fruition, it will be a matter of time before other countries follow suit.
Yours Truly has already visualised a situation in Zimbabwe where one is denied entry into the stadium to watch his favourite soccer team playing due to failure to produce a Covid-19 certificate.
The situation might even cascade to lower leagues as well.
This may appear as a pipedream, but could soon prove to be a reality.
Thou shall not be caught napping.
Till we meet again in the next column.
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