Murambinda-Birchenough Bridge Road: A Hidden Treasure

Infrastructure development is a key enabler in actualising the National Development Strategy (NDS1), and road network is key and critical enabler. 

In the absence of good road infrastructure, the chances of societies and local economies going up the scaffold of development remain between zero and non-existent. 

Murambinda Growth Point is connected to Birchenough Bridge growth point by a 120km road stretch of which only 8km is tarred, leaving a balance of 112km of rough road. 

This is the longest single stretch of gravel road in Manicaland, but the shortest link to Chipinge and Middle Sabi coming from Harare.

Once upon a time, at the dawn of our independence, there were 18 fuel service stations dotted along the 120km stretch. 

To date, you will see service stations at the far end of the road stretch either direction, that is at Murambinda and Birchenough Bridge. 

The other 16 are gone, from Mukome in Ward 29, Buhera South, to Feya in Ward 16, Buhera West. 

What happened? What went wrong? When did the rains begin to beat us?

Government through District Development Fund (DDF), now RIDA, used to have huge and functional bases at Mudanda business centre and Muzokomba, complimented with the Nyashanu mission one which is the only survivor to this day. 

These two centres along the main road from Murambinda-Birchenough Bridge Road, were charged with road rehabilitation and maintenance as was the case across the entire country, and they did that with aplomb and to perfection. 

Traffic was high on the road to the extent that all the 16 fuel service stations in-between were sustained.

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) had numerous collection points for agricultural produce that was primarily traditional small grains. 

Payments to farmers was predictable, two weeks from the date of delivery to GMB, the cheque would be ready for collection by the farmer. 

Now that the road is in a bad state, hardly trafficable, it is a nightmare for the general travelling public and farmers. 

Getting transport for their produce to the market is currently difficult and when available, it comes at a premium. 

Some transporters are refusing to ply the route that brought Kumukira and Kanoyangwa buses on their knees. 

Tenda was quick to pull out his buses that were going to Bulawayo via Buhera from Mutare. 

The damage to the buses was evident, and maintenance costs were not sustainable. 

The tourism and agricultural potential inherent in Buhera District is inescapably entangled with the state of the Murambinda-Birchenough Bridge road. 

This is the catalyst and growth and development multiplier, an enabler of the same, and therefore begs its deserved attention to unlock value that resides in the district via the road so it can significantly begin to contribute to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) via the agriculture.

Tourism will benefit from the national monuments that are in that part of the world, but remains unexplored and virgin. 

Pronouncement by the President

Because President Mnangagwa, is a doer and pragmatic leader, his was not a political pronouncement at the commissioning of Sabi Star mine. 

It was out of the realisation that for Zimbabwe, not leaving Buhera behind, to realise growth and upward mobility, a good road network is a key enabler. 

This unlocks vast opportunities across sectors. 

He said the road will be done this term and counselled the then MP candidates from the four constituencies of Buhera to work with Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona as a collective to get the work done.

The ululation and whistling that followed was as instructive and evident as it was telling. 

Coming from a servant leader and a doer, we can only but submit and collapse on that pronouncement and do the needful to birth and mother the execution. 

 Buttressing from VP Chiwenga

When the Vice President came to Buhera West constituency at Mutasa to drum up support for then ZANU PF candidate, Cde Tafadzwa Mugwadi, he reiterated the commitment made by the President Mnangagwa, at Sabi Star mine in Buhera North constituency. 

It was a refreshing assurance from the second highest office on the land. 

 Commitment by the Parent Minister 

During the pre-budget seminar and on the day of the swearing-in ceremony at New Parliament Building Minister Mhona made a commitment to get the project up and running. He intimated that Murambinda-Birchenough Bridge Road is one of the few emotional projects on his list. 

 Assurance by the Resident Minister

When the Provincial and Devolution Affairs Minister, Misheck Mugadza, took to X recently after his tour of Forbes border post, Christmas by-pass, Green market flyover bridge and the airport, and expressing the urgency of the projects to enable accelerated growth of Manicaland recently, there was an outcry from certain sections of the political leadership.

They thought they had been forgotten. However, the Minister had merely stated the reason for his visit.

 On receiving the ‘distress call’ from Buhera, Minister Mugadza assured the leadership that it would be done because the President made a pronouncement and committed to execute. Music to the ears of Buhera, Manicaland and beyond! 

 Now Is the Time

It’s time to rise from the ashes and shine. In transforming DDF from a Fund to an Agency in Rural Infrastructure Development Agency, the President’s vision and clarity of thought as we march towards the realisation of the Upper-Middle Income Economy by 2030, is palpable.

We can only but support the vision whose success and transformation is inevitable anchored on the commitment from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and other key stakeholders in the project. 

It is about time to realise and enjoy the treasure we have in the road by making sure that we get those that are charged with implementation of such major projects to act with the urgency of our time.

Genuinely burdened, saddened and disturbed by the absence of progress on the tarring of the road and in the face of all attendant problems and challenges, as a collective, we must all come to the party, hands on the deck and shoulder to the wheel, and support the vision and pronouncements of the President so that the project crystallises into reality in our time. And now is the time!

 Sam Matema is the Member of Parliament for Buhera Central Constituency. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Herald

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