THE tourism industry has implored the Government to urgently fix the country’s major roads that have been damaged by heavy rains to ensure smooth domestic travel.
A majority of the country’s roads are heavily damaged with motorists incurring huge repair costs due to potholes while some bridges on gravel roads have been washed away, leaving some communities unconnected.
The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road, a key tourism link, is in a deplorable state — filled with potholes especially on a stretch of 30km either side of Hwange.
The stretch between Gwayi River and Lupane, as well as between St Luke’s and Mbembesi River and around Insuza are affected.
There have been calls to rehabilitate Cross Dete-Binga/Mlibizi road, which links Victoria Falls with those coming off the houseboats from Kariba. Bulawayo-Tsholotsho road, which connects to the Hwange National Park on the northern direction, is equally in a deplorable state.
Some motorists have expressed concern saying the road is now a ‘death trap’ and driving along it is a nightmare.
The Government recently declared the country’s roads a state of disaster with efforts being made to mobilise resources to rehabilitate the road network.
Players in the tourism industry say a bad road network will negate efforts to revive tourism and have called for urgent rehabilitation of all key roads.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chair Mr Anald Musonza said good roads are key in the absence of air transport.
“The road network in Zimbabwe is so important given our drive for domestic tourism and the lack of reliable air services to various tourist destinations in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“More and more of our domestic tourists are self-drives and we need a good road network that allows people to move in an accident-free fashion.
“The current state of our roads begs for urgent attention and redress as we have most of our roads being potholed. The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road is super-important to this destination Victoria Falls as it links us to the rest of the country where our local tourists come from.
“Our appeal as an industry is to have all our major road networks fixed including the one linking our Matabeleland North capital Lupane to Midlands as it gives a shorter link to Victoria Falls.”
The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road leads to the country’ prime tourism destination and connects Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa through Bulawayo. It is widely used by self-drivers visiting the destination.
Mr Musonza said in the absence of airline services for tourist movement, a good road network becomes a major enabler of free access and movement of tourists.
He said with the current Covid-19 imposed travel restrictions and closed borders, internal human movement should be encouraged by availing a good road network system.
Contacted for comment, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said the Government was making efforts to address the challenge.
“Roads are very bad, which is why the Government declared a state of disaster.
“All districts are affected and the situation is the same for tarred and gravel roads,” he said.
“We need concerted efforts by councils, the District Development Fund and the Zimbabwe National Road Authority to fix the road network because our tourism will be affected if we don’t have good roads.”
With the agriculture sector set for a bumper harvest this season, Minister Moyo said farmers and ultimately the country’s economy will be affected as people are likely to face challenges of transporting farm produce to the market.