TOP economist, Doctor Prosper Chitambara has dismissed claims by the ZmbabweNational Roads Authority (ZINARA) claims that local authorities have abused the paltry US$ 80 million disbursements saying the amount is far below what is needed.
The remarks come shortly after ZINARA board chairperson , George Manyaya sensationally hinted that local authorities could have abused an equivalent of US$80 million disbursed in the year 2021.
He said the board was worried that despite the huge disbursements, the roads remain dilapidated, effectively squarely putting blame on councils.
“It is not a secret that the state of our roads is not looking good,” Manyaya said.
“In 2021 we gave Harare City Council ZW$873 million, Bulawayo City Council ZW$353,5 million Gweru City council ZW$25,7 million, Masvingo City Council ZW$165,5 million, Mutare urban city council ZW$353 million.
“Harare province received ZW$133 million, Manicaland province ZW$1 billion, Mashonaland Central ZW839 million, Mashonaland east province ZW$1,3 billion, Mashonaland West province ZW$1 billion, Masvingo province ZW$732 million, Matabeleland North province ZW$1,1 billion, Matebeleland South province ZW$890 million, Midlands province ZW$891ZW7 million. In total we paid ZW$9,5 billion last year,” he said.
Manyaya said these were just Zinara funds which did not include funds from Treasury, which is also part of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Program (ERRP).
He said these road authorities got some disbursements from there. We have since finished paying up for all these funds.
But top economist Chitambara said the needs on the ground requires much more than the mouth- watering amounts being dangled by ZINARA.
“When you look at the state of our road network and try to put a value in terms of what it would take or cost to rehabilitate, then I think the story there is that we have a huge financing gap.
“The $9,5 billion sounds huge in nominal terms but in real terms it is a far cry from what is required from addressing the road issue.
“The quantum of investments needed to do both road and railway is beyond what government can afford so I think we need to involve other partners and we also need to address the doing business environment,” he said.