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Bus services shun Zimbabwe's deteriorating roads

Increasing MBERENGWA District has been hit by transport and communication problems following the pulling out of recently acquired buses by the Government and distributed to the country’s districts, while the communication infrastructure is reported to be obsolete and is no longer reliable, it has been learnt.

Mberengwa Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Julius Mashavakure told the Sunday News on Monday at Mataga growth point that the buses allocated to the district just disappeared without “an explanation” being given.

Mr Mashavakure said most of the service providers in the transport sector were shunning the area because the district’s road network was not accessible.
“These days there are no buses coming to Mataga growth point from the nearest town and recently the last bus which was left withdraw from the route citing poor state of roads.
Even the District Development Fund (DDF) has since stopped repairing the roads because it does not have money."

“There is good road network that lead to so many areas from Mberengwa, but the roads are in poor state. We are losing investment in this area because of poor transport and communication problems. Even the buses that were allocated to the district by the Government have pulled out and there is no explanation given. We used to have 10 buses whose destination was Mataga during our pick period, but now we have non,” he said.

The Government in its effort to alleviate transport problems in the country recently imported buses that were distributed to all the country’s 10 provinces, with each province receiving about 30 buses. He said the district had three types of roads operated by the Ministry of Transport and Communication, DDF and by Rural District Council.
There were roads that linked the area with West Nickleson and Beitbridge in Matabeleland South and Mwenezi in Masvingo.

Mr Mashavakure said the council was responsible for repairing roads that linked the main roads and facilities such as schools and clinics.  “We are talking of the roads that suffered from cyclone eline. The effects of the cyclone are still being felt 10 years later. We have been unable to repair these roads due to lack of funds."

“ZINARA (Zimbabwe National Road Agency) has tried, but the money they have is very little and do not come on time. By the time it comes, it will have been eroded by inflation. We cannot raise the money from local businesspeople because they are also complaining that they are facing operational problems. Besides, some of them never recovered from the price blitz,” he said.

The Government launched a creak down on profiteering businesspeople in August last year. However, Mr Mashavakure said the Government through the Blitz Programme, the council managed to rehabilitate a few kilometres of its road network towards the just ended harmonised elections. The council was given $395 billion out the $570 it was promised by the Government road maintenance.  “With the money, we managed to repair some roads leading to some polling stations. We are receiving maize deliveries through these damaged roads and the transporters once they come this side, they will refuse to come back again,” he said.

Turing to the communication sector, Mr Mashavakure said the district was seriously affected because it had no cellular phone coverage from (NetOne, Econet and Telecel) and there were no reliable landlines.  “We are told by TelOne people that the equipment servicing us is now obsolete. We hear of the Internet and some emails, but the people do not know anything about them here because we do not have direct lines. You cannot make an appointment if you want to come here,” he said.

By Hebert Zharare in Mataga, Mberengwa
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