Over US$16b Road Rehabilitation Funds Unspent
30 November 2021
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By A Correspondent- About half of the $16 billion allocated for roads rehabilitation projects remains unspent due to slow procurement and improper accounting mechanisms, among other challenges.

This was revealed at the roads workshop organised by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) that started in Victoria Falls yesterday.

The workshop seeks to outline Zinara’s mandate, give an update on the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2) and role of the ERRP2 steering committee on monitoring and evaluation as well as capacitate roads authorities on their responsibilities in the national projects, among other objectives.

President Mnangagwa launched the US$400 million ERRP2 programme in March this year premised on the basis that roads are the network that promote beneficial social and economic activities through ensuring a smooth flow of goods and services.

The programme is in four phases spread over three years.

Permanent Secretary in the Office of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, Major Gen (Rtd) Godfrey Chanakira, who chairs the ERRP2 Steering Committee, implored roads authorities to prioritise service delivery and raise the performance bar going forward to improve on funds utilisation.

“We had a budget of $16 billion and as of last week we had used $8 billion, which means there is $8 billion remaining. We are hoping that what is available can be transferred to the dedicated account at Zinara so that projects are completed in the new year without stoppage,” he said.

Road authorities include the Department of Roads, District Development Fund and all local authorities.

He said the responsibility lies with local authorities because they were all advised of their budgets, but they have not been able to draw up budgets for executing works they have proposed.

Government, however, considers that this was the first year of operation of the programme and is a learning curve.

“People were slower in initiating procurement and we wonder what is happening. To Treasury this means that what was allocated is more than what you need. We are trying to discuss with Treasury to roll over what has not been spent to next year, and as we go forward, especially after this workshop, we should see a faster execution of this project.

Our worry is delay in procurement. Most authorities were using direct bidding whose period is 20 days and for ERRP, the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) allowed this to be five days,” he said.

In a speech read on his behalf by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Theodiuos Chinyanga, Transport Minister Felix Mhona challenged road authorities to play their part as Government is committed to road rehabilitation.

“This workshop has come at an opportune time as the Government in the Second Republic has intensified the rehabilitation of our road network under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2. In every corner of

Zimbabwe as we speak there is a road project going on, funded by the Government. This is meant to facilitate trade and free movement of goods and people as we grow our economy towards an upper middle-income status.

“I am advised that there has been a low uptake of funds from Zinara for road rehabilitation as most road authorities are failing to utilise their disbursements due to lack of procurement and technical skills within their structures. This workshop is to learn about the processes from experts from PRAZ and Zinara, and as Government, it is our desire to see all funds allocated for road rehabilitation being utilised for that purpose.

As we implement our projects, let us also adhere to quality standards expected and work within timeframes,” he said.

The minister said Government is not going to tire in this regard and the New Dispensation has taken road rehabilitation to a level that has never been seen before, with a good road infrastructure a key catalyst for NDS1, which feeds into Vision 2030.

He reiterated that Government will not leave anyone or any community behind in terms of road infrastructure development.-newsday