The Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mr Patrick Chinamasa in the delivery of his key note address at the on-going Local Government Investment Conference (LOGIC) has urged Councils to reclaim their status as the custodians of all Municipal road management.
“Municipalities in Zimbabwe must reclaim the total management of all Urban roads while Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) concentrates on highways”, remarked Minister Chinamasa.
In many incidents and especially during school days and public holidays women and children have been heavily affected by poor road systems in Municipalities which have resulted in loss of life due to road traffic accidents.
The Minister’s remarks if taken aboard by Government and could result in improved road maintenance which will simultaneously add up to safe road networks in our Municipalities. There has been a big challenge in the disbursement of maintenance funds from ZINARA. The disbursement system is flawed and lacks ease of doing business principles.
Usually the money comes after the bad state of the roads has already claimed lives and maimed young children and women who use our local roads more often due to their gender roles such as fetching firewood and water, walking the children to school and street vending.
The Minister’s speech is what every progressive country needs if our local roads are ever going to be the best in the world. This boils down to sustainability, which has become a buzz word within the socio-economic development agenda. Sustainability creates and maintains conditions under which society can cope and viably support livelihood requirements.
On the one hand, lack of economic growth and a rapid rise in urban population have created unintended consequences impacting on the economy, social fabric and the environment. Africa is urbanizing at an annual growth rate of 3.4% according to the United Nations 2011. Zimbabwe, akin other developing countries is also urbanizing at a high rate. Ironically, as urban population grew, conventional public transport declined, mainly as a result of an adverse operational environment. The twin factors of increasing population and the dearth of conventional public transport stimulated the growth of the informal public transport and private car ownership most of whom are do not have drivers’ licences. Illegal driving coupled with poor roads can be a potential hazard to our women and children.
On the other hand as the informal sector and private motorisation expands, the city’s main urban public space is increasingly more congested impeding rather than facilitating the urban population’s ability to access the required social and economic services. A clear mismatch between the demand for traffic space and its availability is evident. Demand for traffic space exceeds its supply, inevitably resulting in congestion which can be protracted. Urban productivity at quasi-government level is key to the growth of our urban economies and this requires the provision of a reliable, efficient transport system to move goods and labour.
The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) is a Zimbabwean parastatal responsible for the management, maintenance and development of Zimbabwe’s national road network. It falls under the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development and was established in August 2001, in terms of the Roads Act of 2001 with the aim of enhancing road network system throughout the Zimbabwe.
ZINARA has failed its vision and mission is to become a world class road manager, providing secure, stable and adequate reservoir of funds, to fund effectively maintenance of the national road network through fixing, collection, disbursement and monitoring of funds usage for preservation, enhancement and sustainable development. A gender approach would help spice the parastatal’s mandate to deliver but now with women and children in mind.