The government has so far released $8 million for the dualisation of the Harare-Gweru highway with a 20km stretch expected to be completed by year-end as efforts to rehabilitate the national road network that has suffered neglect intensify.
The money, which has been disbursed to all provinces, is part of the $232 million fund set aside by the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) early this year under the emergency road rehabilitation programme and hotspot rehabilitation.
Mashonaland West resident engineer for the project, Finale Mapurisa told journalists touring the Zinara road projects on Thursday that the first phase; the nine kilometres from Norton to the first tollgate being constructed at the cost of $1,2 million per kilometre, was already 85% complete.
The Harare-Gweru dualisation project is part of the ambitious plan to dualise the Harare-Bulawayo Highway.
“Initially, we had set October as our target to finish the first phase of our Norton-Chegutu dualisation project, but we have revised it down to August,” Mapurisa said.
“This is the fastest pace in the history of Zimbabwe and with funds permitting; we have already began opening up some 10 kilometres from the tollgate.”
Mapurisa said they will pave way between 10 and 15 kilometres every year. Zimbabwe needs about $5,5 billion to rehabilitate its road network that has suffered neglect over the years.
Transport minister Joram Gumbo in January unveiled over $230 million to be disbursed to provinces in phases.
Midlands provincial engineer Stephen Kamutema said his province’s road had been badly damaged by the excessive rains and the Zinara funds will go a long way in rehabilitating the road network.
Midlands, which received about $21 million for road rehabilitation, said it has embarked on many projects including reclamation of the Gokwe centre gully, rehabilitation of the Gweru-Zvishavane, Kwekwe-Nkayi and the West Nicholson roads aimed at decongesting the Gweru-Beitbridge Road, paving of the Mberengwa-Mataga Road and many more projects.
Matabeleland South provincial engineer Denis Mapfurira, said they has received over $10 million for road rehabilitation and hope to improve on its 2 267km road network where close to half was still gravel roads.
Since 2013, Bulawayo City Council indicated that only 31% of the roads were in good condition and 69% needed serious. The province was rehabilitating the Gwanda-Tuli and Gwanda-Maphisa roads.