Zimbabwe: Headlands Bridge Collapses

Mwarazi River bridge in Headlands was washed away by heavy rains on Friday cutting off farmers, mining companies and communities in Chendambuya, Mayo, Chikore and Chinyuke areas threatening economic activity.

The bridge also connected Headlands to Nyanga through a vast agricultural hinterland.

Farmers in the area yesterday appealed to Government for intervention to enable them to resume normal economic activities.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona, who visited the scene yesterday, emphasised the need for speedy rehabilitation of the infrastructure and construction of high standard structures which are safe and sustainable for economic and social development.

Farmers in the area produce tobacco, maize and horticultural crops and expressed fear that if action was not taken, they would be unable to access markets.

Community members also complained that in the event that schools were opened early, pupils would face challenges crossing the river to school.

Minister Mhona, was accompanied by his deputy Mike Madiro, the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Nokuthula Matsikenyeri and senior Government officials.

Part of the delegation proceeded to Chinyuke bridge in the same area which was also destroyed by the rains.

Minister Mhona said it was important for infrastructural projects to be undertaken according to standards for sustainability and safety.

"We have to be accountable to the people and also ensure safety and sustainable infrastructure anchored on monitoring and evaluation as enunciated by His Excellency President Mnangagwa in line with the economic blueprint Vision 2030.

"President Mnangagwa has declared rain-damaged roads a state of disaster and this means we have taken over as the Ministry to repair the infrastructure. This case is disaster and we have to be on the ground and respond to such cases. There is no longer connectivity and the community can no longer move as the road is now impassable.

"We have a social welfare programme running where grain has to be moved and with such a predicament, connectivity has been cut," he said

Minister Mhona said engineers had visited the site and a detour was being made to assist the community as they await the bridge to be repaired.

"We are repairing infrastructure that has been destroyed by rains countrywide and a budget has been set for that.

Minister Matsikenyeri urged authorities to ensure resources were availed timeously so that repair work could start.

"We hope the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will release funds for the repair work early," she said.

Headlands legislator Cde Christopher Chingosho said: "We need immediate action through responsible authorities to repair the infrastructure while long term solutions are sought."

Chief Chipunza said farmers would have challenges taking their produce to the market while children would not be able to cross the river when going to school.

"The bridge was helping different communities and now they are grounded. Government should speed up construction of the bridge so people can go back to their normal lives.

"We urge people not cross flooded rivers. In this case, we had some accidents after vehicles fell into the river after the drivers failed to realise that the bridge had collapsed. It is fortunate there was no loss of life," he said.

Yorkshire resident Mrs Susan Mutowizo said life was not the same without the bridge.

"We will not be able to collect inputs from the GMB or ferry our produce to the market," she said.

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