MATABELELAND North province is considered to be the country’s richest province whose array of resources, if fully utilised, can contribute to economic transformationin terms of gross domestic product.
It is a known fact that the region is home to the largest game sanctuary in the mould of Hwange National Park, while the country’s prime tourist resort area is domiciled in Victoria Falls.
As the name suggests, this resort area is one of the Seven natural wonders of the world. This is due to its gigantic waterfall that spans more than 1 600 metreswide and plunges into about 110m over a basalt cliff continuing into the Zambezi River below.
The nation’s longest railway tunnel is also found in Matabeleland North province and used to be a favourite with railway steam locomotive enthusiasts from afar as United Kingdom, Germany among other key foreign tourist countries.
This spectacular and spine chilling 300m tunnel is situated within Hwange district whose handiwork was done with precision and is a must see as it ploughs underneath a medium sized mountain.
It is believed the tunnel’s darkness makes even witches never dare treading into this spectacular underpass, which is a marvel to any visitor to the area.
The province is also home to the largest rich coal deposits, which gave birth to the then country’s biggest coal mine whose infrastructure used to be second to none.
There are times when Yours Truly foregoes mentioning entities’ names for professional reasons and this particular organisation is not an exception.
The country’s largest thermal power station in the disposition of Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is also domiciled in this particular province.
Huge deposits of coal-bed methane gas are abundant in the Mzola area in Lupane district and are yet to be tapped. This promises to be a game changer if this becomes operational.
However, it remains to be seen if the proverbial light at some end of the tunnel might be realistic in the foreseeable future.
Talking of Mzola, the area is also adjacent to Pupu Battle Site where the Matabele army of King Lobengula under the tutelage of Mtshane Khumalo routed early settler forces on December 4, 1893.
The place was recently classified or designated as a national monument, paving way for it to be a tourist attraction as well as historical and cultural place.
However, as earlier alluded in previous Travelling and Touring columns, there is an utmost need for rehabilitation of the road network leading to both Mzola and Pupu for accessibility purposes.
Talking of approachability, there is need for the powers that be who are responsible with maintenance of the Hwange-Deka Road, which is gradually proving to be a death trap.
To those in the know, this particular road stretches from the coal mining town of Hwange to some place, popularly known as Hwange Angling and Boating Club.
This once popular tourist resort area is situated about 40km northwest of the coal-mining town and was predominantly known for tiger fishing competitions within Matabeleland North province.
It is also one of the best caravan places in the province and is on the banks of Zambezi River.
Hundreds of tiger fishing enthusiasts from neighbouring countries used to throng the place after driving all the way from Victoria Falls or as far as Harare and Bulawayo
Accommodation would be readily available at the adjacent self-catering chalets wholly-owned by angling and boating club.
However, the tiger fishing competition died a proverbial natural death in what has been attributed to poor road network along the Hwange-Deka highway.
The road is now littered with dangerous potholes all the way from Hwange up to the fishing resort, which no visitor worth his or her salt dares travelling along this highway.
No organisation has claimed responsibility or ownership of this particular road, which has in the past claimed human lives. Last month two lives were lost on the dreaded Deka River Bridge when a vehicle plunged into the river.
Vehicle accidents along the bridge are now a regular feature and in the process being a hindrance to would be travellers.
The ownership of this once scenic and undulating road is subject to debate between Hwange Colliery and ZPC. Others are also of the opinion that Hwange Rural District Council is the custodian of this motorway, which in the past was used as a short cut to Binga.
Both entities regularly use the highway to and from their gigantic water pumping stations, which draw the precious liquid from Zambezi River.
Traditional leaders have in the past appealed to those in echelons of authority and responsibility to come on board and assist in repairing this once vibrant road.
The same also applies to the single lane Deka River Bridge, which is in dire need of enlargement if misfortunes are to be avoided.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Till we meet again in the next column.
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