Pothole patching can only go so far

ZIMBABWE’S infrastructure is now embarrassingly poor with our roads fast deteriorating to the extent many are now virtually impassable.

Editor’s Memo with Dingilizwe Ntuli

Large swathes of our road network are full of potholes and are not only every motorist’s nightmare, but also endanger commuters’ lives, particularly during the current rainy season when the problem worsens.

Most of our roads are potholed and have not been adequately resurfaced since Independence in 1980. The toll they take on our vehicles and people is common cause. Driving on our roads is now so dangerous, unless maybe you are part of President Robert Mugabe’s high-speed convoy which appears unperturbed by the deteriorating roads.

Some of Harare’s roads resemble the outback with potholes now so large they are in fact gulleys. This makes driving in the capital’s roads extremely dangerous as drivers have to zigzag to avoid hitting the potholes, while risking colliding with other vehicles.
Our roads are in such a poor state as a result of years of neglect, poor planning and lack of investment.

Road maintenance has been so low on government’s priority scale in the past three decades that most roads are well past their useful lifespan and need complete reconstruction.

And just what are the authorities doing to tackle this growing menace of potholes on our roads? Patching them up!

Although patching up the potholes has brought some relief, that does not improve the condition of our roads as those patches mostly do not appear to last as much as a couple of days, especially during the current rainy season.

Authorities seem to focus more on improving pothole patching technology while road foundations continue to deteriorate.
This type of response is more expensive because in the long run patching up potholes could easily cost double as much as simply resurfacing the entire road.

When will the authorities realise that potholes won’t go away as long as the size or weight of some trucks and buses is too much for some of our roads.

It is high time large vehicles that have contributed to the extensive damage of our roads are taxed based on how much weight they carry on our roads.

Local municipalities must also curb the current free-for-all digging up of roads wherever and whenever utility companies fancy laying their cables.

It is scandalous that such private road works are not coordinated by councils as most companies reduce the lifespan of sections of our roads through such activities. The authorities need to develop a longer-term strategy of regular resurfacing and pre-emptive maintenance if ever the rot on our roads is to be arrested.

This would go a long way in reducing road carnage and save motorists on car repairs.