CHIREDZI - Masvingo provincial roads engineer, Peter Mukome has revealed that it is not possible to do upgrades on the ramshackle Chilonga Bridge across Runde River, saying the RTGS$18 million allocated to the project last year falls short of what is required.
Mukome told TellZim News on the sidelines of a stakeholders meeting at Chitsanga Hall last week that the project needed at least US$20 million just for the importation of materials needed to do the work.
“We got some RTGS$18 million last year but construction was delayed by the economic shocks of October last year when inflation took a sudden turn for the worse. That means the money allocated lost significant value.
“Looking at the engineering designs of the piling foundation, the materials of which are not found locally, we need at least US$20 million in real foreign currency.
"The RTGS$18 million was only meant for the construction of substructure of the bridge but taking into cognisance macro-economic shocks; inflation, price increases and fuel shortages, the contract price of the project was negatively affected,” Mukombe said.
He said his department had identified a new site that would allow for the construction of a new bridge altogether at less cost.
“We have chosen a new site which has firm rock that allows use of mass concrete by local engineers. In that vein, we are focusing on the designs as well as the tendering process which is in progress,” said Mukombe.
On average, five people die every good rainy season trying to cross the flooded Runde River in makeshift boats or in motor vehicles.