Bulawayo-Nkayi Road section opens

The Government has opened to the motoring public a completed section of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road near Turk Mine in Bubi District with the Government committing to avail more funds to complete the targeted portions of the road project.

While the road section had been closed for more than two years with motorists using a detour, the Government recently partially opened the road from just close to Mbembesi, covering about 2km.

The contractor has been given a deadline of up to the end of March to resurface the road up to Ingwingwizi Bridge, which will cover a stretch of about 15km.

Our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday visited the construction site and observed motorists cruising through the rehabilitated section of the road. On the other hand, the sections of the road that motorists had opened following delays in works, had been regravelled and shut from the motoring public paving the way for tar surfacing.

Bubi constituency legislator, Cde Simelisizwe Sibanda, who is also the Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development has committed to rehabilitating 15km of the road section by the end of March.

“Following the in-action on the development of the road, I visited the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development (Felix Mhona), his Deputy (Joshua Sacco), and Permanent Secretary (Engineer Joy Makumbe) in December to highlight that there is a need to do something on the road,” he said.

“But by the end of December, there was nothing on the ground. I visited in January and that is when we started to see work being done. What has been agreed is that the road will be resurfaced up to Ingwingwizi Bridge, which is about 15km.”

Deputy Minister Sibanda said through the rehabilitation of the road, the Ministry of Transport would restore public confidence that the Second Republic is walking the talk on inclusive development of the country while leaving no one and no place behind as President Mnangagwa has enunciated. He said he pressed the ministry to set new timelines for the construction of the road.

“I also highlighted to them that we need to be practical about the reconstruction of the road, which serves a lot of people, it covers two districts Bubi and Nkayi, and three constituencies Nkayi South, Nkayi North, and Bubi,” he said.

“This means there are a lot of people who use the road. We have had frank discussions with the ministry where we highlighted that annually we expect the ministry to cover 30km of the road.

“It does not make sense that we cover 40km of the road in four years as per initial projection. We hope that by the end of 2028, the whole stretch up to Nkayi should be completed. We need to restore confidence in the people that the Government can deliver,” said Cde Sibanda.

He said as it stands a lot of transporters are shunning Bulawayo-Nkayi despite the areas being viable economically. Bubi District Development Coordinator, Mr Juma Dube, said the community in Bubi was excited over the rehabilitation works that have started.

“Right now, it takes more than one hour thirty minutes just to drive from Bulawayo to Bubi Rural District Township. But with a proper road network, this should be taking us just 40 minutes,” he said.

“If the road is done it will bring investments to the district while also connecting markets. We are happy that something is being done,” said Mr Dube.

A motorist Mr Mbongeni Nkomo said he was surprised a week ago to discover that the road had been partially reopened.

“While it might seem that the distance that has been rehabilitated is too short if you have used this road before, you will understand how important what has been done so far,” he said.

“This road is generally a pain to drive in and to see it being reopened for motorists is fulfilling. However, we hope that it is not going to take another two years before the resurfacing of the road is done.”

Motorists expressed excitement over the return of the contractor on site and the work done so far but called for more commitment to expedite the project.

Over the years, traditional leaders and politicians from the Matabeleland region have lobbied the Government to prioritise the rehabilitation of not just Bulawayo-Nkayi Road but Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road as the roads are strategic to connectivity within the region.

In response, the Government has said due to competing financial demands, it will gradually rehabilitate the roads.

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