Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
RESIDENTS in the sprawling suburb of Cowdray Park in Bulawayo have raised concerns over bad roads, which are in a deplorable state and the situation has been further worsened by rains that have been pounding the city since last week.
Some public transport operators have abandoned some of the routes in Cowdray Park citing the bad road network which they say is damaging their cars.
Zupco and kombis have discontinued servicing routes such as Cowdray Park-Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai area. Residents from affected areas are now being forced to walk up to five kilometres to board kombis and buses.
The Chronicle yesterday visited Cowdray Park suburbs Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai area and observed that the roads are virtually impassable.
Vehicles have to negotiate through gullies filled with water and in some instances, the road can be easily mistaken for a trench. Light vehicle motorists struggle to navigate the road.
The news crew observed that the road leading to Caravan and Empompini stands is in a terrible state and kombis stopped servicing the areas.
Pupils in the affected areas said they now dread going to school due to the muddy and slippery roads.
Residents said it was worrying that the council seemed not interested in fixing the roads.
Mr Willard Ndlovu, a kombi driver who was caught dropping off commuters near the Caravan area said:
“There are many commuters there, but I cannot dare to go there because the road is very bad,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said he stopped driving into the Caravan and Empompini residential areas because of the poor state of the road.
Another kombi driver, Mr Ishmael Khumalo urged Bulawayo City Council to fix the roads as matter of urgency saying they are losing business.
“I feel sorry for all our customers, especially vendors who will be carrying wares from the city centre. Unfortunately, we have no other option but to drop them far from their areas,” he said.
Mrs Catherine Banda who resides at Caravan residential area, said the roads are now dangerous especially for children who go to school every day.
“Besides falling, our children get to school dirty because of the mud,” she said.
Another resident, Mr Fortune Chakanetsa said the roads have developed into gullies and are now a health hazard.
“In these gullies, rainwater is collected and eventually turns into a breeding space for waterborne diseases such as bilharzia and cholera,” he said.
“The roads are really bad and our main concern is that they are slowly becoming a threat, not only in terms of road accidents but are a also a health hazard. We urge the council to urgently attend to these roads.”
Mrs Precious Masama of Empompini, said operating a business from her area is difficult since there is no transport to ferry her commodities.
She has since bought a wheelbarrow which she uses to carry her wares home.
“This is painful because we have to use wheelbarrows to ferry our goods instead of vehicles,” said Ms Masama
Mrs Catharine Ndlovu said kombis and buses abandoned servicing their routes about a month ago when the state of the roads got worse following the rains.
“Transport has become a serious problem for us. We are now living as if we are in rural areas where you have to walk long distances to board a bus,” she said.
“Before the rains started, kombis and buses would drive across the suburb, but now we are dropped very far away. We have to walk for two to three kilometres to board buses.”
Bulawayo deputy mayor Councillor Mlandu Ncube said council was working on addressing the problem.
“The coming month we are planning to fix those particular roads leading to Caravan and Empompini areas because they are the worst affected. The situation was further exacerbated by the rains,” he said.
Recently, Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said council was trying its best to provide services to the Garikai area of Cowdray Park but was not getting enough from residents as many of them were defaulting in paying their bills.
In the past week, Bulawayo City Council which was under pressure from motorists complaining about poor state of the city’s roads, blamed the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP), which it said was not delivering to expectations.
Addressing councillors during a full council meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Mguni blamed the ERRP2 for the city’s bad roads.
He said out of the 18 roads taken over by the Government under ERRP2, only three were completed.
Bulawayo Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mr Paul Nyoni has however blamed council for failing to utilise Government funds availed for roads rehabilitation.