By Locadia Mavhudzi
ROAD rehabilitation has been set down as a priority project for Gokwe,a move which is expected to attract more businesses to the new town, whose main economic activity is around cotton farming.
Roads in both rural and urban Gokwe are in a dilapidated state and the rainy season makes them highly unnavigable.
Gokwe Town Council has commissioned a fleet of service vehicles it procured towards improving service delivery. The vehicles, which comprise two tipper trucks, two Nissan NP200 trucks and a Datsun Go, were sourced at a cost of about US$350 000.
Commissioning the vehicles, Public Service minister, Paul Mavima, said the town has the capacity to deliver services if it leverages on available natural resources.
Gokwe is characterised by loose soils that are easily washed away, damaging roads in the process.
“Gokwe can grow its local gross domestic product by taking advantage of the vibrant cotton farming. The farmers, ginners and buyers are all attracted by good roads hence it is a remarkable act that you are now geared to improve your roads network,” he said.
Gokwe Town Council chairperson Never Gwanzura says the tipper trucks will speed up road servicing and maintenance.
“Our town is fairly new and we want to service the local roads in town first. We are grateful for the local resource mobilisation through our own funds and the support from Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara).
“We will also soon be procuring a bowser and a motorised grader. “
Councillor Gwanzura said the secured infrastructure will go a long way in road maintenance in the area.
Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe president, Josiah Makombe, said local authorities are trying to deliver services on the back of subdued financial incomes.
“The situation in Gokwe is not peculiar. Iam grateful that they have managed to procure heavy machinery this year when councils’ revenue has been very low due to COVID-19.
“Many local authorities could not collect revenue from most operations which were halted by the lockdown. I urge you to build back better so that you recover the previous losses in terms of revenue,” he said.
Meanwhile, local governance expert from the Midlands State University, Dr Vincent Chikunda, said local authorities should be accountable with public funds and shun corruption.
“Public finance must be directed towards national development.There must be special provision for marginalised areas so that they enjoy socio-economic benefits of the country.”
Dr Chakunda said bad corporate governance was also rampant in parastatals, making it easy for management to loot the institutions which are already saddled with heavy debts.
He added that government should expeditiously implement the provisions of Section 264 of the national constitution on devolution of power.
“Local authorities stand to benefit and exercise independent decisions on how to develop their own areas.
“If fully adopted, devolution has power to transform local authorities. However, both rural and urban councils must plug revenue leakages so as to protect the interests of the residents.”
According to a countrywide Visual Road Condition and Inventory Survey, which was carried out in 2016/2017 by the country’s road authorities, Road Network in Zimbabwe plays a major role in the movement of the country’s imports and exports as well as transit freight.
However, most of the road network is reportedly in bad condition. Out of the country’s 98 000 km road network, 89% (78 200 km) is made up of un-surfaced roads, while gravel and earth roads make up 47 479 km and 27 532 km, respectively.