Bulawayo City council (BCC) says it is proving too costly to keep its road network in pristine condition due to budgetary constraints.
Last month the local authority indicated that it needs US$700 million to rehabilitate its 2389 kilometre road network.
The City’s Director of Engineering Services Engineer Simela Dube told journalists during a media briefing that almost 60 percent of the city’s roads are in a deplorable state a situation which has been further compounded by the rains.
Eng Dube noted that the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) had promised to provide funds but to date nothing has materialised.
He said the council is struggling to pay contractors as they are now charging as much as US$120 per hour (ZWL$2400) for a single grader hence they fail to get much work done.
“Due to the economic condition, contractors whom they engage to maintain major roads charge for their services in foreign currency which is expensive for the council to acquire,” said Eng Dube.
“Most contractors now require advance payment for mobilisation and procurement of materials of which these charges are usually pegged in or against United States Dollars. When they charge us, they expect us to pay within a period of 30 days but due to various challenges we sometimes fail to meet this target and the prices end up escalating due to the unstable economy.”
Eng Dube added: “Another challenge we face is that the funding levels we have which are way below maintenance requirements. We need a constant supply of fuel to use when we embark on road maintenance services but the commodity is in constant shortage.”
He further explained that the council will continue engaging community members to maintain minor roads and make use of private contractors for the major roads.
The engineer encouraged residents to desist from vandalising road infrastructure such as road signs and traffic lights as such results in constant replacement which gobbles a lot of money which could be diverted to other road maintenance projects.