Zimbabwe's slow recovery from Idai devastation
The Zimbabwean Treasury has released $220 million towards the rehabilitation of roads and bridges in the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts, the two districts hardest hit by Cyclone Idai in March this year.
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Joel Biggie Matiza, transport and infrastructural development minister said: "$266 million is required to fully restore the infrastructure damaged by Cyclone Idai. Treasury has so far released $220 million of the required $266 million."
"Permanent restoration works are commencing next week and the Government envisages that by the time rains come permanent works like bridges, bridge approaches and sections of roads washed away will have been restored. Treasury has since released the money and contractors were engaged and are currently mobilising equipment to sites."
In addition, the South African Defence Force has deployed 118 engineers to assist with fixing damage from Cyclone Idai which struck the region earlier this year.
“South Africa has honoured its pledge to assist Zimbabwe in the reconstruction of destroyed road infrastructure in Chimanimani after the devastating Cyclone Idai disaster," said a press release from the Zimbabwe National Army.
“The SANDF engineers will be working closely together with their Zimbabwe National Army counterparts. The South Africans will be in the country until they finish the prioritised projects in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts respectively.”
This is part of the clean up work being done in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which swept across parts of Southern and East Africa in March, damaging critical infrastructure, leaving families without homes and killing more than 1,200 people.
It has been estimated that Zimbabwe needs up to US$768 million to restore infrastructure that was destroyed by Cyclone Idai.
Yet, not all the work being done on Zimbabwe’s roads are the result of Idai’s rampage across parts of Africa.
At the beginning of July, Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa officially opened the rehabilitated Ngundu-Tanganda highway.
Speaking at the opening, the President noted that the road had fallen into a state of disrepair and resource constraints had caused delays in rehabilitating the road.
“As Government we resolved that we channel the little resources we had towards the rehabilitation of this road in Chipinge. We have completed this road, but it does not end here. We have other areas that were affected by Cyclone Idai in Chipinge and Chimanimani which need our attention. Roads, bridges and schools were destroyed there,” he said.
“We are now confident that we can rehabilitate our roads using money generated locally. All along we thought to rehabilitate roads we needed funds from the US. No! We can do so with our own resources. If there are foreigners who want to assist us we have other roads that need attention."
Zimbabwe is seeking to revamp its investment markets, with permanent secretary for treasury George Guvamatanga announcing on 11 July that the treasury bills and bond markets were being re-shaped.
“We will be coming to the market with an Infrastructure Bond soon to be supported by a ring-fenced structure utilising Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) cashflows to support road construction,” Guvamatanga continued.
Road construction is in line with Zimbabwe's Vision 2030 programme, which seeks to transform Zimbabwe into an upper-middle income economy in the next 11 years. Roads are necessary to boost regional connectivity, particularly routes such as the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, the Harare-Beitbridge Highway and the Kanyemba-Mt Darwin Highway.
According to Victor Bohroma, a business and economic analyst, writing for the Zimbabwe Independent:
"Early this year, the government announced that it was dividing the Beitbridge-Harare highway into nine sections to be constructed by local companies and that US$150 million had been secured to construct detours on three sections of the busy road.
"The government communicated that it is still scouting for partners for the Harare-Chirundu stretch. Key concerns from Afecc in late 2018 were that the traffic volumes along the highway were not sufficient to recoup the investment cost over a specified period of time. Feasibility studies had indicated the entire highway required 6,000 vehicles daily, paying toll fees at each of the planned eight tollgates and this was deemed impossible.
"Traffic volumes on the Beitbridge-Harare highway are under 2 600 vehicles per day currently, while on the Harare-Chirundu Highway, an estimated 1,050 vehicles ply the road per day."