Tragedy looms at Chilonga Bridge
TEN years after government promised to construct a new bridge across Runde River, in Chilonga, south of Chiredzi at a cost of $Z200 billion, the project remains a pipe dream, and lives continue to be lost each year due to drowning.
BY Garikai Mafirakureva
The bridge was washed away by Cyclone Eline in 2006.
As the rainy season nears another disaster appears to be stalking the Shangani people who live across the river. People drown every year and cars are swept away as they try to cross the flooded river. Last year a motorist was swept away while trying to cross the flooded bridge, bringing to 10 the number of people who have died at the site, six of them motorists and four others villagers using dugout canoes.
Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo last week said plans were afoot to reconstruct the Bridge, adding that the project had been temporarily shelved due to the harsh economic environment.
“We have plans to build the new bridge and we are currently mobilising resources. As you know the country is facing economic hardships because of sanctions imposed on us by the West. I can’t give full details now but they will be readily available soon,” he said.
“It’s one of the projects we are going to give first priority, like we did on the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway which is going to create over 300 000 jobs. Although it’s a small project, it is going to also create a number of jobs for the locals,” he said.
Last year, the Civil Protection Unit committee asked the police to mount roadblocks on both sides of the river to deter motorists from crossing the flooded river, but police are yet to implement the directive.