By Nyasha N Mukapiko
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Dr Jorum Gumbo last week on Thursday threw local authorities under the bus for failing to rehabilitate roads in urban areas following a question from MDC Senator Morgan Komichi.
Responding questions from senators during the question and answer session minister Gumbo disassociated his ministry from local authorities saying towns had nothing to do with ministry of transport.
“Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) gives money to four road authorities; Town Councils, Rural District Councils, DDF and the Department of Roads. Those four road authorities have the power to maintain their own roads network. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is in charge of trunk roads”, Gumbo responded.
Gumbo said councils were answerable to the question of potholes in urban areas which have left many roads as death traps.
Gumbo admitted that local authorities were not getting adequate funding towards the maintenance of roads infrastructure which has been worsened by the heavy rains that were received this rain season.
Harare City Council (HCC) has been crying foul after Zinara took over the collection of funds from motorist in 2010. HCC Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni was quoted saying the money they were getting as remittances from Zinara was like a drop in the ocean.
Zinara is a parastatal responsible for the management, maintenance and development of Zimbabwe’s national road network operating under the transport ministry.
Minister Gumbo apprised the senators that though the funding released by Zinara was inadequate other local authorities were properly using the funds for good, citing Bulawayo, Gwanda and Kwekwe as examples.
“The municipalities are paying or using that money for the purposes that it is intended whereas others use that money to pay their allowances and pay debts. As a result, they will be unable to meet their obligation on the road maintenance exercise”, Gumbo said.
“There was a declaration that there is a national disaster on city roads. So, we are assisting the City of Harare to maintain these roads because they are receiving inadequate funding”.
Local authorities are supposed to be running independently according to S264 of the constitution under devolution of governmental power and responsibilities, prohibiting interference from parent ministries.
HCC councillor who spoke on conditions of anonymity said there were a lot of political interference with the ministry of local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, he said the minister wanted to be informed on every decision councillors make on ward level even a grass cutting project.