The Emergence Road Rehabilitation Programme and marginalised settlement resilience in Zimbabwe

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  • posted 4 months ago
  • Zimbabwe declared all roads a state of national disaster on February 9, 2021. Shortly after, a second Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP II) phase was introduced. The objectives were to improve the road network, extensively damaged during the rainy season and to harness the potential of the transport system in promoting economic growth. ERRP II, March-December 2021 is focused on repairing some 26000 km of the network and reconstructing drains before the next rainy season. Government’s Roads Department, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development took over 500km of roads from Urban Councils with 32 of these totalling 250km in Harare, 38 roads totalling 84km in Masvingo, 8 roads totalling 12km in Mashonaland central, 9 roads totalling 25km in Manicaland among other provinces.

    Priority in urban areas is on arterial roads with access roads to be attended to when more funding becomes available.  The targeting of the roads focused on has been in question. Currently, only major roads connecting formal urban settlements have been targeted. There are only 3 months left until the end of the phase and no roads connecting settlements of the urban poor to the larger urban systems have been targeted. The settlements of the urban poor are defined on the basis of lack of urban services, infrastructure and livelihood opportunities. These settlements are marginalised and vulnerable to flooding. Additionally, they have limited economic opportunities and face accessibility as well as internal mobility inefficiencies especially during the rainy season. They need to be connected to the main urban systems through transport infrastructure and actual services. Without clearing water ways, grading and gravelling roads in these areas before the rainy season, they will be inaccessible.

    ERRP II should focus on settlements of the urban poor because of their vulnerability and marginalisation. For example, Budiriro 5 Extension and parts of Hopley Farm in Harare were hit by flash floods in the last rainy season. In Masvingo, increased runoff from Victoria Ranch (a newly established and un-serviced settlement) led to unprecedented flooding in adjacent neighbourhoods like Runyararo West during the last rainy season. Currently, no road and drainage system rehabilitation has been done to foster resilience in these areas. Given that road infrastructure development is a key enabler of economic growth, settlements of the urban poor are facing exclusion. If not included, these settlements will remain off the transport grid and marginalised. There is a need for considering vulnerability in the identification, prioritization and targeting of projects. The programme is already empowering local communities through labour-based arrangements on casual work in road rehabilitation. The same can also be done in settlements of the urban poor regarding tasks like clearing roads to be graded and gravelled and constructing culverts.    

     

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