Government has acquired two state-of-the-art pothole-patching machines for the rehabilitation of the country's major highways. The machines, worth US$555 000, would be first used in Matabeleland South and Mashonaland East provinces.
Speaking during the unveiling of the machines in Harare yesterday, Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche said the machines would speed up the pothole re-filling exercises going on along the country's highways.
"These state-of-the-art machines will see large areas that need patching being covered within a short period of time," he said.
"You shall notice that potholes that required almost a day to be refilled using the current method, would take only one and a half hours.
"The machines will be for highways only as the roads in urban areas are always covered by local authorities."
Minister Goche said illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West were hampering road maintenance programmes.
"As a result, we have not been able to access lines of credit, nor receive any developmental assistance from what used to be our traditional donors.
"Consequently, we have a huge back-log in terms of road maintenance, a situation which is aggravated by the fact that our road network is aged and in some respect has almost outlived its lifespan."
Government, Minister Goche said, would continue sourcing funds to rehabilitate, widen and dualise the country's roads.
"We have so far managed to acquire an additional US$150 million from the Development Bank of Southern Africa for the first phase of rehabilitation," he said.
The first phase would result in the dualisation of the Harare-Bulawayo road starting from Norton to Kadoma. There are two major bridges and it is a distance of about 120km.
Minister Goche said there had been much progress in the rehabilitation and widening of the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare highway. "Road markings are in progress and should be completed soon and we are expecting to record significant progress between Bulawayo and Mutare within the next 12 months," he said.
He said dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge Road was expected to commence this year as Government had found strategic partners.
"Similarly, Government has engaged potential co-operating partners for funding of the Harare-Chirundu road as we are concerned at the number of accidents, particularly in the Makuti area.
"I am hopeful that we will be able to record significant progress on the funding of this project within the next six months," he said.
Minister Goche said the rehabilitation of black spots such as the 80-100km peg on the Harare to Masvingo road were a priority and the portion that was undergoing rehabilitation had since been re-opened to traffic.
"Additional work to complete the remaining portions of that road will be undertaken once funding becomes available," he said.
Government aims to increase the number of machines to one machine per province from the current two machines for the whole country.
Zimbabwe National Road Administration chief executive Mr Frank Chitukutuku urged motorists to pay their vehicle licences to ensure road rehabilitation. "This is the only way we can see an improvement on the country's major roads. An improvement in our roads will also reduce road carnage," he said.