Zimbabwe’s road network has been so acutely under funded that it has deteriorated rapidly. This represents a major change as the country’s road network was once acknowledged as probably being second only to that of South Africa in terms of quality. According to the report of a recent Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, the majority of the country’s roads have outlived their lifespan; they are poorly maintained and under invested in.

The report notes: “There has been no major maintenance work such as re-sealing and reconstruction. This has been compounded by the shortage of other resources such as equipment, fuel, rising inflation and human resources.”

In terms of funding, the Department of Roads only received Z$4 billion in the 2007 budget as against a requirement of Z$200 billion!  The Department is not therefore able to undertake any substantial development of road infrastructure. “The allocations are so paltry they cannot cover substantial ground, even to carry out signage on the roads,” the report observed. If that were not bad enough, the report’s compilers noted that all nine maintenance units of the Ministry of Transport’s Roads Department had collapsed.

The same situation also applied at the District Development Fund, which has primary responsibility for main roads. It has only enough money to build 3km of road in 2007.

The World Bank has calculated that Zimbabwe needs about $1.7 billion to bring its road network back to a good condition. It has been suggested that only 24% of Zimbabwe’s 88,330km road network is in good condition, while 40% is in poor condition.