8 Year Delayed Victoria Falls Highway Dualisation Drags On
19 February 2024
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By Dorrothy Moyo | Eight years have passed since the Zimbabwean government’s announcement in 2016 about the dualisation of major highways, including the critical Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route. Despite initial assurances of progress and development, the project has seen little to no advancement, leaving the public questioning the fate of this crucial infrastructure initiative.

In a recent turn of events, the government has vowed to kickstart the rehabilitation of the deteriorating Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway within the next fortnight. This commitment is part of a broader push by President Mnangagwa’s administration to bolster the nation’s road network as a key pillar in achieving an upper-middle-income economy by 2030. The President has outlined several key infrastructural endeavors for the year, emphasizing roads and dams’ significance.

“The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway is pivotal for our economic integration with Southern African neighbors and access to prime tourist locales,” stated a Cabinet Minister, underlining the road’s economic and strategic importance.

However, the road’s current perilous state, plagued by potholes and severe wear, has sparked urgent calls for a comprehensive refurbishment. Financial hurdles and the impacts of seasonal rains have previously stalled progress, highlighting the challenges faced in maintaining and upgrading the country’s infrastructure.

In an address to Parliament, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Felix Mhona conveyed the government’s resolve to proceed with the road’s rehabilitation, emphasizing the financial constraints and the innovative measures being taken to circumvent these obstacles.

“We are fully committed to improving our road infrastructure, despite the financial limitations we face due to sanctions,” Minister Mhona explained. “I’m pleased to announce that rehabilitation efforts for the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway will recommence within the next two weeks, leveraging funds allocated by the Treasury.”

Minister Mhona also noted the cessation of operations by Bitumen World, the initial contractor, and the broader implications of relying on limited domestic funding sources for such large-scale projects. “Our unique situation necessitates a different approach to road rehabilitation. While other countries enjoy lower interest rates from international financiers, we must rely on our resources, navigating through sanctions and prioritizing emergent needs like health crises,” he added.

The Minister praised President Mnangagwa’s leadership for providing strategic direction in these challenging times, ensuring that infrastructural development remains a priority despite financial constraints.

As the government prepares to restart work on this vital highway, the promise of progress brings a glimmer of hope to many. Yet, the repeated delays and the scale of the task ahead continue to temper expectations. The successful overhaul of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway not only holds the key to Zimbabwe’s economic ambitions but also stands as a test of the government’s ability to fulfill its infrastructural promises to the nation.