Villagers cut off as heavy rains wash away bridge
BEITBRIDGE — Heavy rains that pounded Beitbridge West last week have washed away the strategic Mutshilashokwe Bridge on the road to Shashi, effectively cutting off villagers from Beitbridge town.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The rains came just as affected villagers were still picking up pieces from similar violent storms a month back which left 664 people affected and 132 buildings damaged.
Thousands of villagers from Shashi, Maramani communal areas, the productive citrus farms at Nottingham Estates and tourist attractions at Tuli Circle Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park, have been cut off from the administrative centres at Beitbridge, government officials said yesterday.
“We do not have a comprehensive report of damages across the entire area but this bridge is the major report we have,” Beitbridge District administrator Kilibone Ndou said.
“There is a team from the District Development Fund (DDF) and the Roads department who are on the ground and we expect a full report sooner rather than later.”
Thunderstorms lashed Beitbridge West bringing smiles to livestock farmers but some infrastructure was extensively damaged.
Ndou said the first rains destroyed 132 buildings across the district and affected 600 people.
“Those were the first rains. We need to assess the latest damages,” said Ndou. Affected villagers were in Capfuce, Malibeng, Madali, Malusungane, Chabeda, Novhe and Bhasasa Lot 12.
Women were most affected by the storms with 405 stranded as compared to 259 men.
A bare landscape influenced a high runoff of water during the flash floods resulting in extensive damage of roads, a detailed report by Ndou’s office said.
“Of major concern is the 113 gravel road from Lutumba to Tshikwalakwala,” the report said.
The road links Beitbridge with Chiredzi district and is the direct route to the Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park.
Survey teams were looking at alternative routes to Beitbridge home to the district’s referral hospital.
Also affected are electricity power lines and several rural homes had no power.
The District Civil Protection Unit coordinated by Ndou’s office is high on alert.
Currently as part of interventions villagers are being educated on how to react and those in low-lying areas advised to relocate.
Officer Commanding Beitbridge Police Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri yesterday said they were still assessing the damage.
“We have dispatched a team on the ground to assess. We want to see what damages are on the ground,” Phiri said.