Byo councillors threaten to sue govt over road funds

Bulawayo councillors want the local authority to drag the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) to court to force them to release outstanding road rehabilitation funds.

Discussing the issue of the state of roads around the city during a full council meeting, Wednesday, the councillors called for the disbandment of the government-initiated Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP).

The councillors agreed that ZINARA, which has reportedly not been disbursing funds from 2020 to date, should be taken to court and the local authority given back the power to collect vehicle licensing funds.

“We now need to take the legal route. You will note, Your Worship, that in the yesteryears when we were in charge of collecting vehicle licenses, there were no potholes in the city. Ever since ZINARA took over the issue of revenue collection, we have been subjected to poor roads,” Ward 9 Councillor Donaldson Mabuto said.

“We need to take these people to court so that the money may be disbursed timeously, or, alternatively, vehicle licensing can be given back to the local authority. We are now a punching bag from stakeholders as if we are doing nothing. People deserve to know what is happening. This is a huge failure by the government to fix roads.”

Cllrs Lilian Mlilo, Felix Mhaka and Alderman Earnest Rafamoyo were also in agreement.

“I, Cllr F Mhaka, would like to move the motion that as the City of Bulawayo we would like to disband the ERRP project which didn’t do justice to the residents. It has brought problems instead of solving them. We have to stop this now and we sue ZINARA, making sure that the issue of licensing of cars be brought back to where it used to be, that is at the local authority, so that we can manage our roads,” Cllr Mhaka said.

City Mayor, Cllr Solomon Mguni, described the ERRP project as a failure, noting that the local authority has to take a firm stand to recover the outstanding disbursements from ZINARA.

“ERRP has been a disaster. The central government took over ten roads, major roads for that matter. Talk of the steel works road by Ingwebu breweries-it’s a disaster there, talk of Cecil Avenue up to Wellington, talk about Victoria Falls Road, and so forth, fifth Avenue in the CBD. All the roads meant to be rehabilitated in 2021 have not been done and we are now in 2023!” Mayor Mguni said.

“It’s crucial that this council comes up firm and see how we can deal with ZINARA. As committees and departments, you have been getting reports of how much was disbursed in 2020, 2021, 2022 and how much is outstanding. Would you need any assistance from the finance department because surely that money should be recovered? Once you allocate and don’t disburse, money becomes a debt which must be recovered.”

Mayor Mguni said the city is now using money from its coffers to fix Matopos Road and Luveve Road yet the government is responsible for that.

“What is the end game with the money that hasn’t been disbursed from ZINARA? Are we going to sit here and cry month in month out. Residents don’t pay road levy, that money is supposed to come from ZINARA,” he said.

“If you refer to the Roads Act, it will confirm that. They are just allocating on paper but not disbursing. Are we going to sit and say maybe God will intervene? There are many many solutions at your disposal. We are a tear of a government, this idea of co-supervision and co-governance is not working. Disbandment of the ERRP and recovery of all outstanding disbursements!”

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