Chivi District is on the cusp of a major economic upliftment spurred by the ongoing upgrade of the Mhandamabwe-Chibi Highway. The road had become a death trap due to crater-deep potholes on large stretches of the road.
The bad state of the road was beginning to stifle commerce in the district.
Besides human traffic, the highway provides a shorter route for overland cargo from South Africa to places such as Gweru and Bulawayo.
Its ugly state resulted in transporters using longer routes, a situation that hit them hard in the pocket in terms of fuel.
The highway’s rehabilitation became a top priority of the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa.
Bitumen Construction was awarded the contract to upgrade the nearly 50km long highway.
So far about 28,2km of the road has been upgraded.
More ground could have been covered were it not for funding constraints.
Masvingo deputy provincial road engineer Mr Anold Jeme said the project was poised for completion next year when Government is expected to release additional funding.
While the project has not been completed yet, an air of enthusiasm is sweeping across Chivi, with ordinary fishers and political leaders hailing President Mnangagwa’s administration for embarking on it.
They said besides stimulating commerce and reducing carnage, the road had also breathed life into the local economy through job creation.
Mrs Fiona Nyuke of Ward 16 in Nyamakwe was all smiles, praising President Mnangagwa and his Government for the timely intervention to upgrade the road.
“To tell the truth, this highway had become a death trap,” she said. “Our school-going children were always at risk of accidents because of potholes that always caused vehicles to either veer off the road or experiencing tyre bursts.
“We are very happy that Government has finally started upgrading the road which will reduce traffic accidents because the potholes were now a real menace.
“It was common to see broken-down vehicles throughout the road on a dailydaily to a point of forcing transporters to shun using this highway, leaving most communities stranded.”
Mrs Memory Gudhe of Mhikuro village in Ward 8 said the road upgrade project had breathed life into Chivi’s economy.
“Our people got jobs, thanks to this road project and we are very happy for this,” she said. “We want to thank President Mnangagwa for embarking on this project because the contractor employed hundreds of jobless youths and they are now able to look after themselves and their families, which is good for our area.
“This highway had actually become a death trap because of potholes and we even had a tragic incident when a haulage truck hit a pothole and veered off the road before ramming into a house a few meters from the roadside.”
Mrs Gudhe said adjacent feeder roads had been rehabilitated under the highway project, bringing smiles on the villagers’ faces.
Chivi Ward 8 councillor Joshua Vuta paid tribute to Government for repairing the highway, years after villagers first rang alarm bells.
He said many young people in his area had been employed under the highway project upgrade.
“We had been crying for years that our lives and those of our children were in danger because of the bad state of this road but to no avail,” said Cllr Vuta.
“Finally, President Mnangagwa’s administration answered our calls and there is euphoria across Chivi because of the road upgrading exercise.
“There is renewed hope and optimism that Chivi will never be the same again because of this road project.”
Clr Vuta said communities in areas such as Nyamakwe, Mhiti, Vuravhi, Mashandudze and Makovere up to Mukotosi, along the road to Zvishavane, will benefit handsomely from the upgraded highway.
Chivi Rural District Council chair Clr Godfrey Mukungunugwa was ecstatic because of the positive spin-offs from the project.
He said small business centres dotted along the highway risked going belly up because of the bad state of the road.
“Goods and people will move easily after completion of this road project and this means the economy of Chivi in general will expand,” said Clr Mukungunugwa.
“More people will be able to participate in the economic matrix, which means development.”
Clr Mukungunugwa said the project created many jobs for unemployed youths. He called for similar projects to be implemented in other districts as they lead to economic growth.
“Many rural business centres were on the verge of collapse as transporters were now shunning the road, meaning reduced human traffic and challenges in moving goods,” he said.
“Some people and transporters were even being forced to travel for up to 150km via Masvingo city as they avoided the Chibi-Mhandamabwe Road which was heavily potholed and in a very bad shape.
“Things can only get better and we want to thank Government for this project.”
Communities in the rural Chivi hinterland keen on venturing into fishing at the giant Tugwi-Mukosi Dam to the south, would now easily access the reservoir, a flagship for Government’s Command Fisheries programme to boost household incomes and improve their nutrition.
Growth prospects of Chibi turn-off, which has since been designated as a business centre, now now brighter.
In October, work resumed on the project after a few weeks’ hiatus following the release of $35 million by Treasury for continuation of work after funds had run out.
The project was initially billed to cost $26 million before inflationary pressures forced the cost to spike.
Speaking after release of the funds, Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira said the additional funding for the road upgrade was testament to President Mnangagwa’s thrust to improve the country’s road network for easy of doing business.
He said the development of the road will allow for economic growth in line with Vision 2030.
Government is financing the road project through the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara).
Chibi Turn-Off and Mhandamabwe business centres are expected to witness rapid expansion upon completion of the upgrading project that will facilitate speedy movement of human traffic and goods.
President Mnangagwa recently designated Chibi Turn-off as a business centre in a development that saw the incorporation of adjacent communal land into the new business centre.
The development has already started bearing fruit with plans afoot to develop modern residential housing and shopping malls.
The business centre has potential for growth owing to its proximity to the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, which, in the near future, is expected to become the heartbeat for economic development in the province.
Source – Herald