City of Harare is currently working on logistics to roll out a concrete road pilot project on the Acturus Road.
Roads in the Harare and the country at large are in a bad state due to poor maintenance blamed on a shortage of critical resources especially bitumen, and Harare has been touting the use of cement which is locally available for road construction. Harare has a 5,000 km tarred road network that requires more than $800 million to rehabilitate. So bad have things become that government was in February prompted to declare the country’s roads ‘a state of disaster’.
Harare’s Corporate Communications Manager Michael Chideme told Harare News that council was in the process of engaging local cement manufacturers to partner with for the construction.
“Concrete surfaces are long-lasting which makes them cheaper in the long term and we have enough cement in the country as you can see with the coming in of new cement manufacturing companies. We do not have enough bitumen due to production challenges at Hwange, thus why we are moving towards cement roads,” explained Chideme.
Though they are more costly and labour intensive to construct, other advantages of concrete roads are their life span of 20 to 40 years before repair as compared to bitumen roads which require servicing after 15 years.
Various stakeholders including residents, economists, and town planners seem to have also given the thumbs up to concrete roads. Phanuel Bande (52) from Avondale said that there is no problem in using cement in road construction.
“Residents do not care whether its asphalt or concrete roads, what we just want is better roads. I even wonder why authorities had not considered concrete roads all these years when they were complaining over the shortage of bitumen. It is being done in other African countries and it is sad that as a country we always seem to be laggards in adopting modern technologies,” said Bande.
A government economist who spoke on condition of anonymity said that concrete roads were the way to go given the current economic climate.
“At the moment, cement is much more available locally. So it makes economic sense to turn to the locally available cement than to channel the scarce resources towards importing bitumen. Adoption of concrete roads will also lead to increased cement demand thereby strengthening the cement manufacturing sector,” suggested the economist.
Urban planning expert Percy Toriro concurred with the government economist saying that constructing roads using concrete was more feasible in Harare’s case as the country was importing all its bitumen from South Africa.
“Concrete roads technology is just an alternative to bitumen surfaces. It all depends on choice and the availability of resources and in Harare’s case it is more feasible to construct concrete roads as cement is readily available in the country,” says Toriro.
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