ROAD rehabilitation works have commenced in Bulawayo and contractors have started working on a section of Cecil Avenue as part of Government’s Emergency Road Rehabilitation 2 (ERRP 2) Phase II meant to improve the city’s road network.
Government poured $33 billion towards the ERRP 2 programme after declaring most of the country’s roads a national disaster.
Recently, an ERRP 2 monitoring committee was established in a bid to assess road works being implemented to prevent shoddy work witnessed in some areas last year.
The positive impact of ERRP 2 programme has been witnessed on roads such as Siyephambili Drive, George Avenue and 23rd Avenue which has resulted in smooth sailing for drivers after they were rehabilitated last year.
This time around, one of the city’s major roads, Cecil Avenue will be rehabilitated from Bulawayo-Harare Highway to Hillside Road stretching 6,5km but now the road is closed from the highway to Coghlan Avenue.
Work will start soon on other roads.
Surveys are underway to pave way for work that will start in due course on the Victoria Falls Road stretching from Masotsha Ndlovu Avenue to Glenville Drive, Lady Stanley Avenue; rehabilitation of a 5km stretch of the Bulawayo-Gwanda Road from Ascot to Puma Service Station.
The closure of a section of Cecil Avenue as will be done on other roads where works will be undertaken is meant to ensure safe rehabilitation works.
On Cecil Avenue, the contractor, JTL has set up a base in New Parklands suburb and has partially removed the tar from a section of the road.
The rehabilitation of the road and three other major roads being done in the city by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is expected to be completed by December.
In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo Provincial Roads Engineer Stephen Kamutema said ERRP 2 Phase II was in full swing and there will be “less talking and more work” in the coming months.
“That is the first team to start working on the ground, but I can say we have started to work on the four roads that we advertised, including Cecil Avenue where we will do 6,5km up to Hillside Road.
Works are also being done on Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road and a section of Khami Road.
For the other roads we can safely say work has also started as we are working on their designs and surveys.
Once that is done contractors will be in a position to move to the ground.
We should see construction equipment moving to some of the new sites by the end of this month,” said Engineer Kamutema.
He said he cannot reveal the timelines when the other teams will be deployed to the ground as they were still dealing with technical issues.
He urged members of the public to be patient with teams on the ground while they execute their duties.
“What I can say is that civil engineering works speak for themselves so going forward we are going to be seeing a lot of works being done on the ground as opposed to talking.
The works will be more visible.
I can tell you that all these works have a six-month timeline and we expect to have completed them by December 15 if we include the unseen situations,” he said.
Eng Kamutema said while Government will be rehabilitating major roads that connect Bulawayo with other cities, the local authority is also expected to reconstruct some of its major roads.
According to Bulawayo City Council, 75 percent of the 2 400km road network has outlived its lifespan and needs to be redone.
The local authority says the city requires at least US$700 million to rehabilitate its major roads.
Following the launch of the ERRP 2 last year, Government has allocated over $1 billion for road rehabilitation works in Bulawayo.
However, the local authority has been failing to utilise the allocated funds which recently attracted the wrath of Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube after earmarking 65 roads of rehabilitation.
Minister Ncube said it was disturbing to note that the local authority was failing to utilise allocated funds yet the city’s roads are untrafficable.
The local authority was only able to utilise 10 percent of the allocated funds.
In response, the local authority said it has experienced challenges in implementing the ERRP 2 programme as some contractors were pulling off site due to delays in payments while others wanted up-front payments to deal with inflationary environment.
BCC said it was also struggling to access local currency fuel which also stalls some of road rehabilitation projects. – Chronicle