The state of Harare’s roads is unlikely to improve any time soon after a paltry $20 million was allocated to the roads budget for 2016.
Of this proposed amount, $9 million is expected to come from ZINARA, while the remainder will come from other sources including fines and fees.
ZINARA’s contribution is far from guaranteed however, as they failed to release the amounts they were committed to in 2015. This money was to be used by council on critical maintenance equipment.
Even if all the money comes in, according to Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT), $20 million is not enough to service Harare’s heavily dilapidated road network. “Most roads in and around the suburbs are heavily potholed. City council says it is prioritizing roads. On paper yes, but not in practice. We the residents are not seeing them exerting the much needed pressure on ZINARA to release funds,” said Esther Chimanikire, Lobby and advocacy Officer at HRT.
“We also have a problem in that city council when it gets funds, only services city centre roads or main roads, yet in most suburbs road service is non-existent,” added Chimanikire.
Ward 18 councillor Rusty Markham, concedes that council has been unable to pressure ZINARA, and the issue of road maintenance has become an embarrassment.
“It’s a pathetic situation,” said Markham,“My own comprehension is that there is no road budget allocation at all.”
Sunningdale Ward 10 councillor, Hammy Madzingira agreed, saying, “Council must engage the public because waiting for Zinara alone is not enough. The situation is worsening. Some roads now look like stretches of rock.” Madzingira cited the building of a clinic, a school block and a park in his ward as examples of how residents can help develop the city. “The progress we have made working with residents in our ward shows that there are solutions to some of our major service delivery problems,” said Madzingira.
Budget consultative meetings have over the years revealed roads to be a burning issue among residents, who have expressed frustration at the repeated ZINARA shortfall year after year. The time is near for councillors and residents to approach the parliamentary portfolio on Transport to force ZINARA to disburse these funds to council.
The city has approximately 4,000km of tarred roads with the bulk of the network in need of urgent repair. The situation is made even more urgent by the sharp increase in the number of cars on the city’s roads in recent years. A recent study by Innocent Chisira, Marilyn Gaza and Elmond Bandauko at the University of Zimbabwe titled, “The Growth and Problems of the City,” suggests that CoH needs close to $2 billion to revamp the road system in the city.
Image: A pothol-filled road in Eastlea
Image Credit: Tawanda Mudzonga