Dilapidated Zim-Mozambique highway: MPs demand answers
PARLIAMENT has ordered Roads and Infrastructure Development minister Felix Mhona (pictured) to issue a ministerial statement explaining why government has failed to rehabilitate the Mutare-Mozambique highway, 20 years after the legislature raised concern over its poor state.
Deputy speaker of Parliament Tsitsi Gezi issued the order on Tuesday after opposition CCC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami demanded answers on the delay. Mutseyami said the government’s failure to rehabilitate the roads was hampering regional trade.
“We have a serious problem with regard to a national road which links Mozambique, Zimbabwe via Mutare. This national road has a high flow of traffic, especially heavy trucks. It is a busy road and these trucks link Zimbabwe, Zambia, DRC and in other cases, they link Botswana,” Mutseyami said.
“The problem we have is that it was put to the attention of the minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development some time in 1995. It is the Herbert Chitepo Road; part of the road links Mutare and part of the Green Market. There is a bridge there and that bridge links the flyover and the bridge at Green Market.
“The honourable minister knows this story because it is on the record of the minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development. There was a plan at national level for that bridge to be expanded and to expand as well the flyover — but up to now nothing has been done and, all of a sudden, it is becoming more of a national crisis because it is affecting the countries that I have mentioned in terms of movement of transport and in terms of time management,” Mutseyami said.
While the government has been happy with the progress made so far in rehabilitating roads such as the Harare-Beitbridge highway, most of the country’s major highways are in a sorry state. These include the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway and the Harare-Chirundu Road.
Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa named Mhona among ministers who have been doing well. Besides highways, roads in the country’s cities and towns are also in a poor state, with the government blaming local authorities for their dilapidated state.
Some local authorities have, in turn, blamed the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration for not availing adequate funds to rehabilitate roads.
Zimbabwe is at the nerve centre of the Sadc region but countries in the region have become frustrated by the government’s failure to rehabilitate major roads, particularly the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road which facilitates the movement of millions of people between southern Africa and central, East and North Africa while also facilitating regional trade.
Sadc countries moved to bypass Zimbabwe by building the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River which enabled traffic to move from South Africa to Botswana and Zambia, effectively cutting off Zimbabwe, because of the poor state of roads.
Kazungula Bridge was officially opened in 2021 with one-stop border posts in Zambia and Botswana. Construction work began in 2014 after Zimbabwe failed to repair and upgrade its roads which date back to the Rhodesian era. A 2001 Sadc assessment of the road infrastructure in the region showed that a third of Zimbabwe’s road network was in a parlous state.
The Beitbridge-Chirundu Road was singled out as one of the roads that needed rehabilitation because of its importance in the region.