Zimbabwe’s pothole headaches

On Monday, top footballer Onismor Bhasera, who plays for South African premiership club Supersport United, escaped death by a whisker when his BMW hit a pothole, spun out of control and rolled on a highway which connects the cities of Mutare and Masvingo.

When a nation’s major highways are infested with gaping potholes, you begin to ask yourself whether there is still a government in charge. Bad roads are one of the hallmarks of a failed state because transport infrastructure is vital in building resilience and addressing fragility in a properly functioning country.

A dysfunctional state, by definition, cannot have world-class roads. The ability to provide public services plays a major role in ensuring that a government retains both its effectiveness and legitimacy.

Zimbabwe’s pothole-infested highways are posing serious danger to tourists, cross-border hauliers and other road users, inflicting further strain on a fragile economy that is projected to slow down this year due to a worsening liquidity crisis and heightened political risk.

Transport Minister Jorum Gumbo says the country needs US$5 billion to repair the badly damaged roads. President Robert Mugabe’s stony broke government, already failing to pay civil servants’ salaries and struggling to finance a US$4 billion national budget, has declared the pothole-infested roads “a national disaster”.

But critics say the government’s description of the road network as a national disaster is a stark admission of failure—and they are right. Opposition leader and former finance minister Tendai Biti remarked that Harare has become “a pothole capital of the world”.

Under normal circumstances, a declaration of a state of disaster would attract donors and international financiers to fund the rehabilitation of roads but Zimbabwe—ranked by Transparency International as Southern Africa’s most corrupt nation—has become unattractive to foreign investors.

Biti estimates that the country in fact needs US$14 billion to fund the resurfacing of damaged roads—and not US$5 billion as claimed by the transport minister.

“Our roads have outlived their span of life, which normally is about 20 years. Our roads are over 60 years old and they are not getting the necessary maintenance,” Minister Gumbo moaned on Monday.

“The Ministry (of Transport) is not getting enough money from the fiscus. The whole of last year, the ministry received only US$500 000 from Treasury, and definitely there’s nothing you can do with $500 000,” Gumbo complained.

Urban and rural councils, responsible for local roads, have complained that the state-run Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), which collects toll fees, is not allocating them enough funds for maintenance.

Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme has revealed that the municipality received US$1,2 million from Zinara in 2016. He said the allocation is woefully inadequate to finance the repair of the city’s vast road network.

Some engineers contend that it costs between US$800 000 and US$1.2 million to construct a single kilometre of tarred road. It goes without saying that Zinara must now explain where the rest of the money collected in toll fees is going.

Zimbabwe needs a holistic solution to the pothole menace and not piecemeal prescription that is more expensive in the long term.

Source: (Reproduced from the Zimbabwe Independent)

12 Responses to Zimbabwe’s pothole headaches

  1. Anne Ince
    Anne Ince February 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Sounds familiar….

    Reply
  2. Max Davis
    Max Davis February 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I hope you are not trying to remove our focus from the potholes situation in Barbados.

    Reply
  3. Christopher Foster
    Christopher Foster February 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Hope we are not comparing our efforts to that of Zimbabwe’

    Reply
  4. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn February 8, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Don’t watch Zimbabwe .They have sanctions on the country also leathership crisis. Barbados don’t have those problems.

    Reply
  5. Hamza Azul
    Hamza Azul February 8, 2017 at 11:59 am

    pothole capital of the world you haven’t been to barbados

    Reply
  6. jrsmith February 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    @ Angus ,B, hail , hail, barbados dont have those problems , no water , sewage in the streets , 10 buses running , pot holes every where , they cant install lighting on dangerous roads. nothing works……

    Reply
  7. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner February 8, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    So what does this got to do with Barbados.

    Reply
  8. Greitcha Smith
    Greitcha Smith February 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    So it’s my pothole is bigger than yours now?

    Reply
  9. Tony Webster February 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Wunna rude an’ out-of-place: dat is NOT a Zim pot-hole…is a Zim water-catchment, whichin’ when dry…does ketch BMW’s.

    Reply
  10. Shelly Ross
    Shelly Ross February 8, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Potholes are issues all over the world and any one who thinks it is unique to any one location, should go and educate themselves.

    Reply
  11. jus me February 9, 2017 at 2:26 am

    @ Tony Webster
    YEAH!!! Love it jus love it.

    How Massah Gumbos does we have??
    5Billion us$. PAH!
    Seems familiar accountancy doh!!

    Reply

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