Thursday, April 29, 2010

Zim transport infrastructure dilapidated

Zimbabwe Business Media
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

27 March 2010 - Zimbabwe's roads are more than 40 years old, the railway lines more ancient and the country's airport infrastructure badly needs to be upgraded if the transport sector is to be revamped towards a meaningful contribution to the country's stuttering attempts at economic revival.

Addressing the International Business Conference held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, Transport Communications and Infrastructural Development secretary Patson Mbiriri said the country's roads were long overdue for rehabilitation.

"Zimbabwean roads are over 40 years old and have outlived their usefulness. We have been patching them up but that is not working and we need a total revamp. The railway lines are even older than the roads, we now have to exercise a lot of caution on the railways where a train has to travel at 5 to 10 km per hour to avoid accidents," Mbiriri said.

He said there was need for infrastructure development partnerships with well-heeled foreign compaines because government has neither the capacity nor the financial resources to handle the projects, which include roads, railways and airport works.

He said government is netting US$1.3 million monthly from tollgates and disbursing it to the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) for patchworks on the roads but that is not enough.

He said the railways lines were very bad and short term rehabilitation programmes like those done in the past would only yield short term gains.

"We can rehabilitate the railways but still realise a short lifespan. This is more urgent, because at some point we will have to open up and allow other railway companies to operate," Mbiriri told the business delegates.

He said the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) needs to urgently upgrade infrastructure at the country's three main airports, Harare International, Joshua Mqabuko, Victoria Falls.

"We only have US$4 million, which is enough to attend to the taxiways, Joshua Mqabuko needs a terminal building and a new tower."

The country's dilapidated transport infrastructure has been identified as a key impediment to economic revival. The roads are heavily pot-holed and have not been maintained for more than ten years. The results of a new toll-gate system which came into force on the roads last year are yet to be seen visibly on the roads.

Zimbusinessmedia 2010

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