Bulawayo gets paltry US$14m out of required US$700m for roads rehabilitation

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By Thobekile Khumalo

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has received US$14,1million aimed at rehabilitating 38km of the road network in the city, but needs over US$700million for an overhaul of the entire system.

Roads in the city is in a bad state characterised by potholes that damage vehicles and makes navigation for drivers a nightmare.

An estimated 70% of roads in the country’s second capital have outlived their lifespan and at least US$700 million is required to rehabilitate major roads in the city.

BCC Corporate Communications Manager, Nesisa Mpofu told, the ongoing roads revamp is expected to cost US$14,1 million.

“The U$14,1 million received is split as follows under the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2), we have US$12, 9 million and under devolution we have US$1, 27 million.

“The current programme is targeting 38km works, comprising of re-gravelling 10,5 kms, reconstruction of 6kms and overlay of 9, 5 kms. Under the programme we also have reseals that will amount to 12km,” she said.

She added that the selection of roads was based on council’s on going routine and periodic roads maintenance exercise, which they are following. It was also in line with the roads condition survey that was conducted and done according to roads condition plan.

“These programmes are drawn up every year on road condition survey we completed in 2016 and yearly programmes are reviewed at the end of the year to assess progress.

“The priority are arterials, collectors, CBD and public transport route roads so that’s how were prioritise which roads get attention.

“While there have been instances of poor workmanship or accusations of poor workmanship, as a council we have various processes to ensure that quality and integrity of roads is maintained.

“The city’s engineering services department ensures quality control measures are carried out during the execution of the work.

“Contractors are required to appoint independent testing laboratories and the council’s team will also undertake random tests to insure compliance to standards,” she said.

Mpofu said the city’s project manager and the in-house laboratory will ensure that quality standards were met for both jobs done inhouse and those out sourced to contractors.

“We assure members of the public that at times the works maybe perceived to be poor relating to pothole patching, but this is mainly attributed to the fact that the roads concerned would have outlived their lifespan.

“They will be due for a complete reconstruction hence if the road is in a very bad condition and we try to reconstruct the work may appear to be poor\ workmanship but it’s an issue of the road itself being in a desperate and aged state.”

She added: “This is largely also due to funding constraints as the city is at times forced to do minimum work to keep the road network serviceable.

“All things being equal it will be good for the city to be able to conduct complete works so that maximum benefits can be felt by residents.

“Roads such as those patches by potholes will appear again to be in need of patching because the surface being patched or overall road needs attention.”

“We are looking at the interface between the old and new roads and this always exposes the weaknesses where roads will appear as if they are deteriorating even if they have been attended to.

“The works that we have mentioned for this year are being contracted out due to lack of plant and equipment. Council’s fleet and equipment is obsolete and it constantly breaks down.

“While council’s in-house teams concentrate on routine maintenance such as pothole patching, drain clearing, there is need for us to engage other contractors so that works can be done within the timeline and to allow for maximum benefits,” said Mpofu.