Residents stealing gravel meant for pothole patching

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has raised concern that some residents are taking the gravel meant for pothole patching for personal use in their homes.

The local authority is supplying gravel to different wards in the city to cover potholes which have rendered certain roads unusable.

Speaking during Fix my City, a CITE weekly show on service delivery, Engineer Howard Njabulo Sibanda from BCC Engineering Services Department revealed that the gravel is a temporary measure to improve the state of the roads.

“Council has taken it upon itself to try and maintain the stability of roads in all our areas, like I said the emergency road program covers roads in all sectors of the City. We have programs like regrading and re-gravelling which is meant to achieve at least 3km of roads done every year in every ward in the city.”

“The project has failed to kick-off due to the unavailability of priced fuel which has become a challenge because Council only collects revenue in local currency but we have however moved a step further and tried to engage private players and contractors to try and see how best they can approach that project,” said Engineer Sibanda.

He said the local authority has been going around dumping gravel after the residents pledged to assist in covering the potholes.

“The gravel is meant for the use for road patching only, not for individual use. We have discovered that in many cases we go and dump the gravel but then the people that have promised to go and spread it would take longer till that gravel is abused in other forms,” he said.

“We want to reiterate that this is a temporary move that can only improve the rideability of our roads at the moment and we ask that when the residents come to ask for that gravel, they stick to their side of the bargain that they will go on and spread it to improve the road rideability.”

He said Council has various programs to engage in pothole patching and there is also a program that involves community groups to assist in that activity.

“We also receive hot mix form that is produced from Bitumen that is used for projects that are related to overlays that cover roads that are in serious distress conditions. You will be informed that currently the City has only one company that is able to produce these admixtures with the production of Bitumen and you will be informed that the Country is currently overstretched as they are the only company in the region that is supplying all local road authorities with the premix,” said Engineer Sibanda.

He said this has resulted in pothole patching programs failing to kick off this year.

“It is a hope that if there is a second patching machine, probably those patches can be produced and these interventions are engaged.”

Engineer Sibanda added, “There are various other community projects that did not involve Bitumen works, we have programs that have to do with drain clearing, time and again before the rain season we will always try and clear drains so that we do away with flash flooding and ponding in our residences to try and protect the properties of the residents.”

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