- "The bridges that were constructed before independence are intact but the ones that were constructed after independence are being swept away. Why is there a difference?" - MDC Alliance MP David Tekeshe (Makoni Central) pins down newly sworn-in Transport Minister Felix Mhona in Parliament. Mhona dithered and dallied for a convincing response...
By Nompumelelo Sibanda
AN MDC Alliance Member Parliament has demanded Government to explain why the incessant rains are only sweeping away bridges built after independence by the Zanu-PF led Government while those constructed over fifty years ago by the Rhodesia administration remain intact.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Felix Mhona, who was sworn in under two weeks ago, literally for a baptism of fire as opposition MDC Alliance MP for Makoni Central, David Tekeshe, yesterday demanded to know why structures built by the Zanu-PF Government apparently lack reinforcement.
Mhona replaced Joel Biggie Matiza, who passed away in January after contracting the coronavirus.
“We are having a challenge in that the bridges are being swept away and infrastructure is being destroyed. There are rains all over the country,” Tekeshe said.
“The bridges that were constructed before independence are intact but the ones that were constructed after independence are being swept away. Why is there a difference?”
Mhona dithered and dallied, saying that Government had a policy that looks into all the projects and infrastructure that is being constructed to ensure tgey are done properly.
“I promise you Hon Tekeshe, after a project has been completed, evaluations are made to ensure that they are of correct standard,” Mhona said.
Tekeshe said Zimbabwe has a law that says bridges must be inspected annually so that if there is a problem it is rectified immediately.
“Are these bridges being inspected? Why is it that the bridges which are being built these days do not have reinforcement like all other bridges?” asked Tekeshe.
The Minister groped for an answer and accused Tekeshe of asking his question with a certain bridge in mind. He then asked the legislator to put his question in writing, the same old trick members of the Cabinet use to wriggle their way out of questions in Parliament.
“Since you have a bridge that you have in mind, it is better that you put your question in writing so that an appropriate response may be given with regards to how the bridge was constructed,” said Mhona.
In December, Karanda Bridge deck which was under-construction was last swept away by heavy rains that pounded Mount Darwin. The washed-away bridge borders Mt Darwin South and Mt Darwin East constituencies.
In January, heavy rains destroyed a bridge along the Shurugwi-Mhandamahwe highway forcing motorists to and from Gweru to use the longer and labourious Beitbridge-Zvishavane highway.
The bridge was first destroyed in 2015. Government repaired the bridge, but when the floods came this year, it was severely damaged.
“We suspect that much of the damage was a result of theft of mesh wire which helped reinforce the bridge,” Shurugwi assistant district development co-ordinator Desmond Gumbochuma said.
The Shurugwi-Mandamahwe highway is the major link for trucks from South Africa travelling to Chirundu, then Zambia, DRC and Tanzania. Government promised that the bridge would be re-done by end of May this year.
Mwarazi Bridge on the Headlands Mayo-Chikore Road was also swept away last week, adding to the long casualty list of bridges that have failed to last the season’s downpours. — Zimbabwe Voice 🔺