Takunda Maodza, Manicaland Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT is satisfied with progress on road and bridge repairs in areas hit by Cyclone Idai last March, with most contractors having completed over three quarters of their assignments.
Most of the companies started work at the end of August last year after Government contracted them to repair the road network.
Cyclone Idai ravaged Chimanimani and Chipinge districts, killing hundreds of people and destroying key infrastructure, including roads and bridges.
On Wednesday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza and some members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development toured Chimanimani District to assess progress on the rehabilitation of roads.
GR Goddard, Masimba Construction and Bitumen World are some of the major companies that were awarded contracts to repair the road network in Chimanimani.
In an interview after the tour, Minister Matiza said he was satisfied with progress.
“From what I have seen so far, the roads and bridges can withstand any heavy weather and rains. I have four members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development travelling with me so that they can also appreciate what Government is doing.
“The President has always said that this infrastructure must be completed in time and that good infrastructure must be in place and this is what we are witnessing,” he said.
Minister Matiza praised engineers contracted by the companies.
“The technical know-how, the equipment and the engineers deployed by the contractors are spot on. The five bridges that I have gone through from Mutare to this place look very new. I am satisfied. In some areas, of course, they are slow, but in others they have completed their works,” he said.
Acting chair of the committee Mr Robson Nyathi endorsed the rehabilitation work.
“We are very impressed with the work going on here and we came for our oversight role as the ministry was doing its strategic planning for the year 2020. From what we are seeing on the ground, we are very impressed. There has been very progressive work.
“The perception that local companies are not qualified to handle such tenders is wrong. Zimbabwean engineers are all over the world and they are actually employable in any country within our region and abroad,” he said.
In a separate interview at Skyline, the area most damaged by the cyclone along the Wengezi-Chimanimani highway, Masimba Construction’s engineer Anywhere Dingembira said they would be done by next month.
“We expect to have finished all work here around February including road surfacing. We came here around September last year,” he said.
Some of the companies said they were facing challenges related to payment by the Government and erratic fuel supplies.
“We have challenges in terms of diesel. We are not getting it on time. We are sourcing our own diesel and it is part of the contract. We are getting payments, but not on time. I think we have received two payments since we started, the advance payment being the third one,” said Eng Dingembira.
“We have two outstanding payments and we are expecting them sometime this week.”
But while the companies have made major progress, recent rains that pounded the district left a trail of destruction in areas such as Kurwaisimba in Chimanimani East.
On Monday night, the rains damaged a section of the road at Simbini near Lagos Township, isolating Kurwaisimba from Kopa.
They also caused some landslides and Bitumen World is now attending to the affected area.
“We came here on Monday after rains destroyed the road overnight. There was no proper bridge. They were just those boulders.
“We rushed to bring our equipment as the people here in Kurwaisimba had been disconnected from Kopa.
“We are now putting permanent structures,” said Bitumen World surfacing manager Mr Cuthbert Gonhovi.