HARARE – Bulawayo Town Clerk Christopher Dube has issued a shocking directive on residents to stop performing forms of repairs on the city’s heavily damaged roads without permission or face prosecution and an order to return them to the state in which they were before the illegal repairs.
In a statement, Dube said it was the local authority’s mandate to fix roads under its jurisdiction.
Just like in many urban centres in Zimbabwe, many roads in Bulawayo are now very difficult to navigate by road transport as they are riddled with gaping potholes.
Vehicle owners have complained about having to continuously repair their car suspensions which face constant damage through driving on the damaged roads.
Some resourceful residents have taken it upon themselves to patch potholes in some sections of the roads using rough material such as bricks, stones, gravel and sand.
Although not the smoothest of surfaces, motorists find the makeshift repairs much better than driving on sections of broken tar and holes.
Authorities are however not too happy with that.
“The City of Bulawayo wishes to raise public awareness that under Part II Section 5 of the Roads Act (Chapter 13: 18), planning, design, construction, maintenance, rehabilitation, and management of all roads under its jurisdiction are its responsibility as outlined in section 5(2) of the Act which reads, ‘Every local road authority shall, within the area of its jurisdiction, have power to construct, maintain and rehabilitate every urban or tertiary road or road which is not a regional, primary or secondary road in accordance with road programmes’,” Dube said in a notice.
He said anyone who wishes to fund or carry out road construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation must seek permission with the local authority.
Dube added that those who repair roads without authorisation may be directed to restore them to their previous state or face criminal charges.
“In accordance with section 53 of the Roads Act, Part IX, if any person does any act which he has not been authorised by the road authority concerned to do, the City may, by notice in writing, direct the person, at his own expense and within such period as shall be specified in the notice, to restore the land to the condition in which it was immediately before the unauthorised act,” he said.
Dube added, “If the person fails to comply with the direction within the period specified, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level four or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or both such fine and such imprisonment.”
The announcement sparked outrage from some residents who felt the city fathers were already failing to meet their mandate of fixing roads.
“Madness at its best. You would actually instruct someone to reopen potholes after you’ve failed to maintain the very roads under your jurisdiction for years on end. I’m in a new suburb and the roads are falling apart. Best believe l will not wait another 5 years for you to come and sort,” said Jaonne on the microblogging platform Twitter.
Another Twitter user, Frank Mzondiwa said: “Absolute rubbish from failures. So, people should not fix what you are failing to do yet you are paid for it.”
The city council is also currently struggling to finish the rehabilitation of Luveve Road which had become a nightmare for motorists with impassable potholes.