Zimbabwe: Massive Economic Losses in Manicaland, As Flood Misery Continues

Photo: The Herald
The flooded Odzi River in Zimbabwe.
18 March 2019

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure, livestock and agricultural produce have been destroyed in Manicaland and parts of Masvingo provinces in the past three days due to heavy rains and gusty winds from cyclone Idai, with fears of further losses expected as the floods continue.

Economic activity in the eastern province has literally been flooded to a halt, with other provinces west-wards that depend on Manicaland's road connectivity to suppliers and markets in neighbouring Mozambique catching the cold.

Government is yet to establish the official monetary estimates of losses, but the trail of destruction is evidently brutal that most of districts are no longer accessible to determine the extent of damage.

Tanganda Tea Company finance director, Henry Nemaire told 263ChatBusiness that its still difficult to bring monetary value to the destruction.

"Infrastructure that includes roads, bridges and power supply has been destroyed in Chipinge where we operate. Chipinge and Chimanimani are rich agricultural districts housing the big powers of agricultural exports. If Government acts fast as advised we will overcome and export produce and recover economically,' he said.

In the worst hit areas, electricity transmission infrastructure has been swept away and all lines of communication destroyed while some high ground areas that where spared of destruction are left cut of electrical supply.

'We request Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to mobilise their national teams to assist in the restoration of power supply as we can not work," added Nemaire.

While most villagers in and around Chipinge and Chimanimani districts mainly depend on self sustaining projects such as goat keeping and chicken raring, not much is left from the ravaging floods.

At a macro-scale, several bridges that connect to Cashel Valley Irrigation Scheme in Chimanimani where bean farming is beaming have been destroyed including Tanganda bridge.

Zimbabwe already ha massive infrastructural bottlenecks that have been the major source of weak production and poor competitiveness. The destruction is expected to worsen the country's infrastructure lag.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce vice president, Kenneth Saruchera said there is a lot of timber that has been cut and can no longer be transported owing to the floods.

"The transport sector has been adversely affected, more so the timber sector. Big trucks can not risk collecting timber hence this will affect various industries across the country as you know Manicaland is the hub of forestry industry," said Saruchera.

The disaster comes at time Government has been pressured to set up a disaster management fund following the recent Battlefields mining disaster which exposed Government's ill-preparedness to such emergencies.

In the 2019 National Budget, the Civil Protection Unit was allocated a meagre $ 2.36 million, a figure observers say is rather insignificant.

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