BY PRECIOUS CHIDA

HARARE City Council has only managed to refurbish a 10km stretch of the targeted 545km road network across the city and blames the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) for underfunding the project.

Council’s finance and economic development committee chairperson, Luckson Mukunguma said the local authority was having problems getting money from Zinara, adding it would have been easy if Harare was administering the funds as before.

“We constantly requested more funds to implement road works but Zinara did not respond positively to our pleas,” Mukunguma said.

“The state of our roads remains deplorable and this year we managed to do only 10km of the targeted 545km, then in terms of preventive maintenance we did only 18km of the targeted 585km.”

The Zimbabwe National Roads Act recognises Zinara as the sole administrator of the roads fund. It took over the task from local authorities in 2009.

Since Zinara’s takeover, council has dismally failed to repair its worn-out roads.

With the city boasting a vehicle population of more than 450 000, council said had it be the one managing the licensing portfolio, they would have been able to maintain and construct new roads.

“Subject to confirmation, the vehicle population in Harare is way over 450 000 and if the city was managing the vehicle licensing portfolio on its own, we would be able to carry out road construction and major maintenance works,” Mukunguma said.

Zinara has reportedly stopped direct disbursements of road maintenance funds to local authorities following allegations of abuse and misappropriation of funds by some councils.

Zinara has, however, been caught in massive scandals involving millions of dollars.

Recently, council’s human resources committee chairperson Jacob Mafume said Zinara was supposed to remit some revenue to the council to enable construction and refurbishment of roads.

“Zinara must bring back our money so that we build our roads and sufficiently pay our workers,” he said.

As a mitigatory measure, council is proposing a 20% infrastructure development levy on all new developments to fund road programmes.

Acting Zinara chief executive officer, Saston Muzenda, could not be reached for comment yesterday.