Poor Road Network Worsens Hunger Situation For Nkayi Villagers
13 June 2020
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Government has blamed poor road network for failure to feed hungry villagers in Nkayi, Matabeleland North province, amid reports that the majority of people in the district were starving.

Humanitarian aid agencies estimate that 7,7 million people in rural and urban areas are at risk of severe hunger, owing to climate change-induced drought and COVID-19 economic shocks.

A collapsing economy characterised by ever-rising prices of basic commodities has exacerbated the situation, pushing many into deep ends of poverty.

Government claimed it was providing food aid to ease the crisis, but reports show that hunger is affecting many in Nkayi.

In an interview yesterday, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo blamed Nkayi’s poor road network for failure to transport food aid from Bulawayo to the villagers.

“That is why I was with the Transport minister last week touring unfinished road projects in the province. We have some truckers who are refusing to transport the grain, citing bad roads in Nkayi,” Moyo said.

When Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza on Friday toured the Bulawayo-Nkayi and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho road rehabilitation projects, he said the completion of the roadworks remained a major priority.

Moyo added: “Of course, we have some truckers that agree, but they are very few. What we have said now is let us have the Nkayi Road re-graded in the interim to allow truckers to transport the grain to the villagers there so that no one starves.”

Former Nkayi South legislator Abednico Bhebhe described the hunger situation in the district as dire, blaming the government for abdicating its responsibility to ensure the right to food is guaranteed.

“To blame roads is a diversionary tactic by a failing government. The hunger situation in Nkayi is very bad as we are witnessing families going for days without a meal. It is the direct responsibility of the government to feed its people and not to wait for non-governmental organisations to play that role,” Bhebhe said. The Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, whose construction began in 1993 and was supposed to be completed by 2009, is in a sorry state and the same reads for the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road. Less than 50km of the nearly 170km Bulawayo-Nkayi Road has been widened and resurfaced.

Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru once blamed hunger for the government’s failure to finish construction of the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, saying billions of dollars meant for the project were diverted to feed hungry Zimbabweans.

Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu also once told State media the construction of the roads was affected by sanctions as partners pulled out before the work was complete.