Home » Governance » Mutoko Villagers Take Bull By the Horns

The proverbial saying, “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain,” adapted from Chapter 12 of the Essays of Francis Bacon, published in 1625, has etymologically evolved over the years and today aptly describes the situation in Mutoko East constituency. Peeved by Government’s reluctance to maintain, let alone construct new roads in their area, villagers have dedicated at least two hours a day to repair the stretch of road passing through their villages to ease transport woes they are facing.

The villagers, especially from All Souls Mission, Mushimbo, Kapondoro, Mudzonga and Makobva areas, have also been spurred by the recent road disaster along the Harare-Nyamapanda Road which claimed 23 lives most of whom were travelling to the Makosi and Chisambiro areas.

Groups of road maintenance brigades in Madzande, Chabvuta, Nyamakosi and Chatiza are leading the project that continues to spread in the constituency.

According to Mr Milk Chiwara from Kapondoro under Chief Chimoyo, the carnage could have been averted if people were not forced to huddle in overloaded buses.

“The roads are in such a bad state that some public transport operators have withdrawn their services. Even our own relatives with cars cannot risk their vehicles in these roads lest they damage their vehicles,” he said.

He said most of the bridges in the area have either collapsed or are impassable when it rains and the rivers are over flowing.

“Where transport operators are still operating, the service is very poor and is synonymous with overloading and commuters are loaded together with their goods and it is quite uncomfortable.

“We have realised that if we wait for Government to repair the roads we would soon lose the little transport still available in the area. So after several meetings, village heads mobilised everyone to at least dedicate two hours a week to repair and maintain our roads especially the part that is next to your homestead.”

He added: “People in the constituency appreciate efforts being made by our MP but he has limited resources so we want to complement his efforts to improve the road network in the constituency.”

Shopkeeper at Nyamakosi Business Centre, Ms Tambudzai William said the bad road network was affecting business and service delivery in the constituency.

“Each rain season the roads develop deep gullies but no-one seems to care and we cannot even travel for stock. This is really bad for business because the poor roads do not just affect commuter omnibus operators but the delivery trucks that supply us with goods for our shops,” she said.

The bad roads, she said, has only seen one bus plying the route to Chisambiro.

“Can you imagine what happens when people are all trying to board that single bus? The situation becomes difficult when it has a mechanical fault and this happens quite often.”

According to 94-year-old Mr Timothy Murehwa, the recent incessant rains have made the situation very difficult.

“The rains have been erratic but we have had the rivers flowing in recent years and it seems this affected the structures built in the pre-colonial era as we have not seen much development in the area.”

He added: “The poor roads have seen transport providers giving us the worse of their vehicles because no-one would risk his bus or commuter on these roads.”

Mr Murehwa said the roads have affected even school children from Mawere and Nyamuzizi who sometimes miss classes when the rivers are flowing over the damaged and sunken bridges.

In an article published on the website, World Highways, on the significance of rural roads to global development, Maryvonne Plessis-Fraissard, highlights that the key importance of rural roads in the context of global development is only now being fully recognised, is not receiving enough attention and is facing vital new challenges.

“Rural roads are the wealth of nations, a tool for social inclusion, economic development and environmental sustainability. If rural access is an indicator of poverty, then rural roads management may be a measure of governance.

“Its significance extended beyond the issues of rural and agricultural development, and contributed to the unbundling of the concept of poverty, and the corresponding processes of social and economic integration.”

She added that rural roads were no longer a feature of agricultural policy but they have become a critical headline indicator of development monitoring.

She said improvement of rural roads also brings social development, firstly in the form of improved food security while better attention to rural roads and appropriate community participation has been shown to enhance the quality of citizenship in Peru.

Plessis-Fraissard, however, notes that rural roads often receive the least attention in the network.

“This is because they are funded from a number of sources, at national regional and local levels. Similarly, they are managed with inputs from central, regional and local governments, and are situated at the intersection of transport, agriculture and local government mandates. They are treated sometimes as economic, sometimes as social investments.”

According to Urban Development Corporation planning officer, Mr Shingai Kawadza, roads create accessibility while development follows connected areas.

“Besides helping communal farmers to transport their produce to markets in urban centres, roads are key economic drivers linking villages and farms to local and regional markets,” he said.

“Roads provide social benefits such as providing rural and isolated communities easy access to school, clinics, dip tanks and growth points while transport providers often follow well connected areas hence a good road network provides access to remote areas or back of beyond areas.”

Mutoko East MP Ricky Mawere concurs with people from the constituency that the area has been neglected for too long.

“Our area is the most neglected in the whole of Mutoko district. I am not sure if its neglect or what but efforts are being made to engage authorities from central Government so that we develop our area especially on the road,” he said.

Cde Mawere said two bridges had collapsed along the road servicing the Nyamuzizi-Matedza area forcing villagers to use one route leading to overloading of vehicles.

He said while there are alternative routes that can be used by villagers these had become inaccessible due to the incessant rains and neglect of the roads.

“Government should do something about the roads in the area. We will be engaging Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Obert Mpofu so that he sends his officials to assess the roads and bridges in the constituency.”

He however hailed villagers who initiated the plans to repair and rehabilitate sections of their roads in their areas.

“This is part of a self-reliance initiative from the villagers as they now realise that the roads and bridges are theirs they use them everyday hence the need to maintain what is ours.

“We are motivated to maintain the roads but villagers feel that they should also be enjoying services from central Government. They feel Government should put aside money to repair rural road.”

MP Mawere added that since farmers were providing some of the horticultural products to the markets in Harare there was need to develop their area.

The legislator identified Nyangaya 1 and 2 and Nyaruchera Bridges as in urgent need of repairing.

Mutoko East constituency was established from the break-up of Mutoko North and is made up of Wards 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19.

The road network that leads to All Souls is bad and public transport operators have withdrawn from this route.

According to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, the people are generally well-off as they are engaged in market gardening and sell their produce in Harare and along the Harare-Nyamapanda Highway to Mozambique.

Zimbabwe has a total road network of 87 654 killometres and according to the Zimbabwe National Road Authority rural roads cover at least 61 000 kilometres while urban roads cover 8 194 kilometres.

The roads authority also indicates that most of these roads are more than 30 years old and require complete rehabilitation.

The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation underscores the need to undertake work in critical area such as the development of a robust, elaborate and resilient infrastructure. Roads are part of such infrastructure.

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Source : The Herald