TREMENDOUS progress has been recorded in the rehabilitation of roads and bridges destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, with the commencement of the construction of the 23km stretch of road joining Kopa Business Centre and Jopa being a major boost for the district.
The development is expected to transform the economy of the district, which is mainly hinged on a good road network to transport the fruits and vegetables produced there.
Following the Cyclone Idai disaster last year, Government prioritised the rehabilitation of infrastructure to ensure that all affected areas become accessible.
Although the country is currently under level two lockdown, work on most outstanding projects has been ongoing, as the construction companies have taken advantage of the window to complete their work.
Almost all bridges from Wengezi to Skyline are complete, with the exception of two at Biriiri and Muusha.
Headway has also been made on the roads linking Peacock and Rusitu Valley.
The stretch of road from Skyline to Chimanimani Village is almost complete and was recently opened to traffic.
Chimanimani District Development Coordinator, Mr Joseph Manuyurapasi said, “Although work was delayed a bit by the lockdown, we are glad that some of the contractors opted to stay onsite and continued working. Masimba Construction, which is doing the Skyline-Chimanimani Road, utilised the lockdown to speed up construction work. Now that we are on level two of the lockdown, we have more contractors coming back to continue with recovery efforts,” he said.
He said the commencement of work on the Jopa-Kopa Road is a positive move that will benefit the district immensely.
Work on the road, which has been on the cards for years, started last Saturday and is expected to be complete within six months.
The 23km long and seven metres wide road is being done by Bitumen World and will be tarred.
Treasury released funds for the road after Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube’s recent tour of the area.
Bitumen World site manager, Mr Cuthbert Gonohovi, said they are almost done with the other roads they had been contracted to do, adding that ther are now focusing on the Jopa-Kopa Road.
“We have been working on Cyclone Idai recovery projects for about seven months now and we have made good progress. We are only left with minor works on the
roads and bridges we are working on from Peacock to Rusitu. Government has contracted us to do the Kopa-Jopa Road, which will be tarred,” he said.
“Since water levels have gone down, we want to move in and do work fast to beat the rainy season. We have been working for three days now and so far we have done earthworks, 2kms bush clearance and we are likely to start hauling gravel by the end of the month.”
He said some sections of the road are waterlogged, hence the need to move fast before the rainy season.
“We are worried about swampy areas along the road since most areas in that section are waterlogged, so we need to attack those areas first and make sure we have all the drains and culverts in and then build up the rest of the road before the rains,” Mr Gonhovi said.
He said they would not open any detour as they intend to do the entire work in cooperation with the communities and motorists.
Chimanimani East legislator, Cde Joshua Sacco, also commended the work that has been done on the roads and bridges.
He said the Jopa-Kopa Road will open new doors for the Rusitu Valley.
“We are happy with the progress made so far and we commend Government for supporting the initiative of rebuilding our infrastructure after Cyclone Idai. The most exciting thing is the commencement of work from Jopa to Kopa. This means our farmers in Rusitu Valley will now be able to get their fruits and vegetables out to the markets easily.
“We hope this will mean more transporters coming into the region, thereby resulting in competitive prices. It will also ease transport challenges for citizens in and out of Rusitu valley,” he said.
Cde Sacco said the road will also open the valley to export markets that are interested in organic fruit produced in Rusitu.
“This is the first step in opening up the economy of the Rusitu Valley. We are looking at establishing a value addition plant there to add value to our fruits. We will also have packing sheds in the area, with refrigerated trucks carrying fruits out. The opportunities are massive.
“Hopefully after the coronavirus subsides we can open up for export markets,” he said.
Mr Charles Boko, a banana farmer, said, “Construction of this road is a good development and this will bring development to our area. We survive on farming, mostly bananas, so we have had challenges in transporting our crops to the markets due to bad roads. This road (Kopa-Jopa) becomes impassable during the rainy season, and our fruits would rot in the fields during that period. Once it is tarred, we will be able to move our fruits on time, our profits margins will also improve.”