DDF, Roads Department face Parly probe over utilisation of funds for Cyclone damaged roads

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Chimanimani (New Ziana) -Parliament plans to summon officials from the District Development Fund (DDF) and the Department of Roads for hearing to explain how they spent over US$1 million that they received to rehabilitate roads damaged by Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, Manicaland province, an official has said.

Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development and those from the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) last Friday toured Chimanimani to inspect bridges and roads which were rehabilitated by the two entities.

Most roads and bridges in Chimanimani were destroyed by Cyclone Idai which ravaged eastern parts of the country in March 2019, killing many people and destroying infrastructure.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the cyclone, one of the worst on record to hit Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, a national disaster to enable the government to raise funds to assist the affected.

Soon after the cyclone, the government embarked on the rehabilitation of local roads and bridges to enable communities to return to their normal lives.

The Wengezi-Chimanimani road, which is 83 kilometres long, was divided into three phases during the reconstruction exercise with the first section, from Wengezi turn off to Skyline being done by JR Goddart Construction Company while the second, from Skyline to Chimanimani was done by Masimba Construction and the last one, from Chimanimani to Joppa was done by Bitumen Warlt.

The committees also toured the 16 km gravel Changamire road which goes to Runyararo, where people affected by Cyclone Idai were relocated and which was reported to have been rehabilitated to the tune of US$600 000.

They also inspected Muti Muuyu gravel road, which has so far been graveled up to a 20 km patch and is expected to go up to a 45 km stretch at a cost of US$300 000.

Speaking on the sidelines of the tour, committee acting chairperson Noveti Muponora said they had some reservations on the cost of the exercise.

He said the funds disbursed were not reflecting what was on the ground.

“As a committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development in conjunction with the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we have been on a countrywide tour from Chirundu. The objective of the tour is to inspect and see the roads and bridges which are being rehabilitated by the Ministry of Roads and Infrastructural Development together with the District Development Fund.

“Here in Manicaland, we have toured a road which goes to Runyararo where people who were affected by Cyclone Idai were relocated by Government. We saw the repaired road but as a committee, we were much concerned about the cost of the exercise because it’s a gravel road, plus it already existed it was only re-graveled.

“We felt the cost of US$600 00 for a 20 km stretch is not reasonable, so we have asked them to furnish us with papers and the contract they signed, then we look into them. We are yet to invite them for a hearing to testify before Parliament.

“Muti Muuyu road was rehabilitated at a cost of US$300 000 for a 20 km gravel stretch and it is yet to be finished up to 40 km stretch. Still, we want explanation on how the funds were utilized because this road existed before.

“What they only did which is important is regrading and re-graveling the road. The gravel is also being taken on the sides of the road. If they give us a report regarding their spending, it will help us to advise Government on how best these departments can be assisted with equipment.

“We have discovered that private contractors are fleecing government funds. We feel it will be better if government departments are resourced,” said Muponora.

New Ziana

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