Bitumen World resumes Falls Road repairs

A Bitumen World worker controls traffic along a stretch of the Bulawayo-Vic Falls highway recently

Leonard Ncube, leonard.ncube@chronicle.co.zw

BITUMEN World, the company contracted by the Government to rehabilitate the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway has resumed pothole patching along the road.

Our news crew observed workmen from the contactor patching potholes in the area between the Umguza Toll Gate and Ticehurst, popularly known as Benise, along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road.

The road has further deteriorated and some sections are hardly passable. A journey that used to take less than five hours between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls now takes double the time because of the potholes.

The Bitumen World workers on Wednesday were using soft gravel to fill up the potholes that had littered the highway, making it dangerous to drive.

Bitumen World is carrying out road works in many parts of the country and along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road, they have surfaced 10km from South Mining to Cinderella in Hwange before abandoning the works last year due to challenges with payment.

The company had set up an asphalt plant at Gwayi Business Centre and had been patching potholes along the 437km highway, especially between Bulawayo and Hwange.

In Hwange, some sections of the road are still barricaded since last year and motorists are using detours.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=TX9NrZuGut0%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Motorists have implored the Government to speed up the rehabilitation of the road, which has been worsened by the rains. 

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona recently told Cabinet that the company was making its way back to resume road works.

In an interview, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said his office had engaged the Ministry of Transport officials to ensure all road works are supervised to avoid substandard work.

This follows concerns that most potholes were redeveloping after being filled.

“They are back on the road and we have discussed the need to expedite the rehabilitation work. We encourage the Ministry of Transport to supervise the works so that we don’t have potholes that keep resurfacing,” said Minister Moyo. 

“They are going to patch the whole road and continue where they left last time when they were surfacing in Hwange and towards Beitbridge.”

Richard Moyo

Villagers in communities along the highway especially between Insuza and Mbembesi River as well as between Lupane and Fatima have been filling potholes with soil they dig on the edges of the road and in return beg for money and food from motorists.

Although at a low scale, their efforts have been helping as they patched a significant amount of potholes.

There are, however, accident risks as the sites they work on are not barricaded and they risk being run over by vehicles.

Speaking in Mabale recently, hotelier Mr Jonathan Mathuthu, who operates Sikumi Lodge, implored communities to partner Government in fixing roads for the benefit of local economies.

“Let’s not wait for Government to do it but we should have a way of mobilising each other to fix the road. We implore authorities to capacitate those living near the roads with skills of rehabilitating roads so that they can safely do so,” he said.

Most of the country’s road network has outlived its lifespan resulting in some sections of the highways being littered with potholes that make driving a nightmare.

The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, an important route connecting Zimbabwe with other Sadc countries via the Beitbridge Border, needs urgent attention.

Haulage trucks have been identified as major contributors to the destruction of the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo Road.

Through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme, the country is rehabilitating the road network to meet world-class standards as the nation drives towards an upper-middle-income society by 2030.

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