Failure to develop transport infrastructure could cost Zimbabwe millions of dollars in potential revenue due to the emergency of alternative routes bypassing the country, transport stakeholders have warned.
Speaking at the ongoing strategic planning for the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, stakeholders said the emergence of alternative routes and infrastructure developments like the Kazungula bridge linking Botswana and Mozambique, pose a threat to the country.
Stakeholders also deplored the state of roads which they said is forcing freight cargo to bypass the country opting for alternative routes.
"We have raised concerns over the deplorable state of the roads and infrastructure viz-a-viz some developments that are taking place in the region where there has been a lot of state of the art infrastructure and roads sprouting around the region.
"This development poses a direct threat to Zimbabwe due to the emergence of alternative routes like the Kazungula bridge, where transporters can use to ferry their cargo across the region.
"As these roads and new bridges are constructed transporters will soon bypass the country and make use of these cheaper routes, what more we have failed to maintain the roads that we already have," said one of the stakeholders attending the conference.
In its response, government says it is only funding rehabilitation works at Chirundu-Beitbridge highway shelving the dualisation plans announced earlier on.
Department of Roads' Director of Operations, Engineer Kudzanayi Chinyanga said government's purse can only cater for rehabilitation of the road due to resource constraints.
Eng. Chinyanga said government is working on phased project to rehabilitate the Chirundu Beitbridge highway before they can embark on dualisation of the highway, with a target of completing 120 kilometers this year.
He said despite the comparative advantage that Zimbabwe had over its regional peers, there was need to push through with the phased development to attract back lost business.
"It's a reality that some countries are probably creating by passes but they are developing their countries as much as we should develop ours but our current advantage despite the bypasses we still carry an ace up our sleeves because we have the shortest distance.
"However, we are not comforted by that we have contractors working the Beitbridge to Chirundu road five at the moment but they are going to be 6 who will by the end of the year or ten months complete rehabilitating a stretch of 120 kilometers.
"Our program is such that we will continue issuing out those 20 kilometer tenders until we finish the rehabilitation works for the 560 kilometers.
"While we may need to do more we also need to watch our resources base because our ability to fund is only limited to 120 kilometers a year that is what our fiscus can afford, if funds are permitting we want to have completed this project within the next three years," said Eng. Chinyanga.