ONLY 10 percent of the surfaced (tarred) national road network is in good condition, with 30 percent in poor condition while 57 percent is in fair condition, a senior Government official has said.
About 3 percent of the road network has been unclassified, 1 percent of gravel and earth roads were certified to be in good condition, 22 percent was in fair condition, 72 percent was said to be in poor condition while five percent was unclassified at this stage.
In response to this situation, Government has initiated a number of road rehabilitation projects, including building new ones. Some of the road rehabilitation projects initiated through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development include. . .
Tenders will be awarded on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis for the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Harare-Nyamapanda and Rutenga-Boli-Sango roads before the end of this year.
Currently, feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs are underway for the Beitbridge-Bulawayo road and should be completed by August this year, after which tenders will be floated.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo said Government had made significant investment into the road network and more funds would be channelled towards infrastructure. The minister said about $300 million had so far been channelled into infrastructure development, including road rehabilitation.
"Some $13,28 million was spent on rehabilitation and maintenance of road infrastructure in 2015 and $11,44 million in 2016. At the same time, rehabilitation of the Plumtree-Mutare road was done from 2012 to 2016 at a cost of $206 million," said Dr Gumbo.
"In the aviation sector, the major investment has been upgrading of Victoria Falls Airport in the last three years to December 2016, at a cost of about $150 million. There was also some money spent on rehabilitation of the runway at Harare International Airport," he said.
All the road works were funded by the Zimbabwe National Road Authority and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
"There has been no private financing of transport infrastructure development since the New Limpopo Bridge in 1994 and Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway (BBR) in 1998.
"The Plumtree-Mutare project was financed through a loan obtained by ZINARA from DBSA (of South Africa). Victoria Falls Airport was financed by a loan to Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe from China," said Dr Gumbo.
Minister Gumbo said the National Railways of Zimbabwe also carried out some rehabilitation work on the national railway network.
The condition of the country's road network had deteriorated since the last condition survey in 2010. At that time, 20 percent of the national road network was assessed to be in good condition, 30 percent in fair condition and 50 percent in poor condition. Ongoing road projects include the dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway, including the Harare Ring Road.
"The construction team has started arriving from China, and construction is expected to start in September this year," he said.
"We are also going to construct Phase 2 of the Harare International Airport Road. The late commencement has been due to delays in carrying out the required feasibility study. Again this will be done and project implementation will commence before the end of the year." the Minister added.
More funds, especially foreign direct investment, could have been channelled towards road projects, among other infrastructure development projects, but lack of appropriate and adequate legislation governing Public Private Partnerships was a hindrance.
"However, we now have the Joint Venture Act, and we trust that from now on we will be able to attract significant levels of FDI in transport infrastructure development," the Minister added.
Source - Bulawayo
These huge amounts are on top of the budget allocation of Rs 42.02 billion in the current fiscal year. Minor projects that had been allocated between Rs 1 million to Rs 5 million are now receiving Rs 10 million and above. A few of them are receiving over a billion.
Four minor road projects in Jhapa, the home district of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, have now been converted into multi-year projects and guaranteed funding of about Rs 1 billion. The projects are Lakhanpur-Mangalbare-Mujarphutta-Jyotinagar road, Satamari-Bhalubari road, Charali Kechana ring road and Damak ring road.
Likewise, Biratnagar-Debanganj road in the constituency of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) Bijaya Gachchhadar has been upgraded into a multi-year project.
Likewise, Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel has allocated about Rs 3 billion for similar projects in his constituency. Belbas-Nuwakot-Dobhan road and Belbash-Bethari road have been turned into multi-year projects. The fiscal year budget had allocated Rs 5 million for the Belbash Bethari road and this sum has now been increased to Rs 1.94 billion.
Swarnim Wagle, senior economist and former member of the NPC, said bringing a road to every voter is not the solution to the lack of efficient road infrastructure in the country. He suggested focusing on good roads over the shortest distances and efficient transportation.
Priority projects in top leaders' constituencies
Three influential leaders from Pyuthan district have used their sway to get minor projects prioritized. Govind Raj Pokharel, former NPC vice chairman, has converted at least two projects into multiyear ones. He was also involved in project selections for the current fiscal year. Track opening and upgrading of Jhimruk ring road and the Hatiyagaun Jabune-Airabati road in Pyuthan have now been prioritized. Likewise, Bamdev Gautam, former home minister and senior leader of the CPN UML, has secured funds for the black-topping of Bhigri-Swargadwari road and the construction of a ring road in Madi Model Municipality.
Rekha Sharma, lawmaker of the CPN (Maoist Center) and minister for general administration, has gotten four roads, also in Pyuthan, converted into multi-year contracts. Cherneta-Salghari-Sari-Dandagau road, Badadanda-Kaskot-Hansapur-Airawati road, and Okharkot-Machchhi-Tanda Pokhari road are among the four.
Balkrishna Khand, influential leader of the Nepali Congress from Rupandehi district, has secured a few multi-year road projects also. Bauddha Paripath-Ramgram-Panditpur-Jyamire road, Harkatawa road and Murgiya- Suryapura-Lumbini road in Rupandehi, and two other minor roads in the Lumbini area were recommended by Khand for such conversion. Similarly, senior UML leaders Janardan Dhakal, Surendra Pandey, Parbat Gurung, Rajendra Pandey, Lal Bahadur Rawal, Yagyaraj Sunuwar, Deepak Karki, and Janardan Sharma of CPN (Maoist Center) have also secured projects in their home districts.
Sumitra Amatya, a member of the NPC, told Republica that "projects are being converted as a new experiment for completing projects listed in the budget within three years and averting the continuous financial burden of such small projects over as much as a decade." She further said that conversion into multiyear does not mean the resources are allocated right away as the funds will only be disbursed after the detailed project report (DPR) and environment impact assessment (EIA) are completed.