Parliamentarians have challenged the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) to timeously release road funds to local authorities across the country before they could be eroded by inflation.
ZINARA collects road funds through toll gates dotted around Zimbabwe before later disbursing them to local authorities.
Both urban and rural district councils have blamed the sorry state of roads in their jurisdiction partially on late disbursement of funds by ZINARA.
In a report tabled before the august House recently, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing challenged ZINARA to release the funds in time.
“ZINARA should release the funds meant for road maintenance to local authorities within three months of allocation to ensure timeous implementation of projects and avoid erosion of the funds due inflation,” says the report.
“The Portfolio Committee toured the roads networks within the jurisdiction of the local authorities. The Committee noted the need for local authorities to construct and maintain feeder roads in their respective jurisdictions. Funding for these initiatives also comes from the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA).”
The report adds: “The Committee was informed by local authorities that ZINARA funds were being disbursed towards the end of the year when the money would have lost value due to inflation pressures. As such, the local authorities were facing a huge backlog in terms of servicing roads resulting in poor road networks.”
The report says local authorities emphasized that the funds being disbursed were just enough for routine maintenance and not periodic maintenance.
Routine maintenance is when the roads are just being patched, for example filling in potholes and periodic maintenance is whereby the roads have to be resealed.
The Committee said it was informed that Binga Rural District Council had wanted to surface two kilometres of roads in 2019 but was unable to do so because of limited resources.
“The council received ZWL$689 817 from ZINARA and the funds were used to do some road works in Kaani high density suburb and along Nakaluba Road,” says the report.
Hwange Local Board has a total of 32 kilometres of sealed road network and 70 percent of the roads required periodic maintenance. The council has challenges with rehabilitation and maintenance of the roads because of inadequate funding.
“In 2019, Hwange Local Board was allocated ZWL$1.2 million for road maintenance and rehabilitation from ZINARA but the council said it only received ZWL$178 955 in the last quarter of 2019,” reads the report.
“The amount was grossly inadequate and the council could not accomplish much in terms of maintenance. The Committee was informed that the works done using the ZWL$178 955 allocated in the last quarter of 2019 were washed away by the floods in February 2020.”
In 2019, the report says, Victoria Falls received ZWL$371 000 from ZINARA for road maintenance, which the council said was inadequate to undertake any meaningful road works.