Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has directed Government departments to escalate development projects in Matabeleland region that are lagging behind, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said this in an interview last Thursday in Maitengwe, Bulilima after touring the Maitengwe-Plumtree Road.
Minister Matiza was accompanied by Bulilima West Member of Parliament Cde Dingumuzi Phuthi who briefed the Minister on how the area had suffered from under development.
Maitengwe-Plumtree Road is due for rehabilitation and tarring as it is viewed as one of the key economic enablers in the region connecting Zimbabwe and Botswana via Bulilima District through Maitengwe Border Post.
Minister Matiza said it is President Mnangagwa’s vision to see Matabeleland region developing to the same level as other provinces.
“The President wants to see all the projects in Matabeleland being escalated to the same level as other projects in the country. This is why it is important that I come here to see and to make sure we assure our community that there is progress. This project has created some anxiety, people are seeing asphalt and quarry but nothing is happening. It is our duty as Government to make sure that we follow up on what we had started,” said Minister Matiza.
He said road construction works in Matabeleland region were lagging behind and his visit was meant to find ways of escalating progress.
Minister Matiza said although some of the roads were budgeted for in the 2019 national budget, funds have not been released for commencement of construction.
“I’m coming to this province to look at the progress of our projects, I had meeting with my provincial engineers and I noticed that in some parts of Matabeleland, the projects are not moving as fast as in other provinces. So my being here is to check on all these roads to ascertain the status in which they are and how we can improve delivery of the projects.
“Obviously, we intend to escalate those that were on budget but were not funded. They are quite number, they were budgeted for but not funded and we hope in the supplementary budget they will be accommodated,” he said.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube is expected to deliver the mid-term budget review before the end of this month.
Minister Matiza said part of the equipment for the rehabilitation of Maitengwe-Plumtree Road has been purchased and construction work will commence in a month’s time.
He said the tarring of the Maitengwe-Plumtree Road would improve usage of the Maitengwe Border Post which motorists are shunning.
“This border post is quite vital to the economy and because of this road not being maintained or upgraded this has led to the congestion of the Plumtree Border Post. So the aim is to rehabilitate both the road and the border post. In Matabeleland South we have five roads that are not funded but were budgeted for. So there is a lot of potential that we need to work on and bring in employment and increase economic activity. There are a lot of things that go on around here. There is cross border business that flourishes around,” said Minister Matiza.
Cde Phuthi said the Maitengwe-Plumtree Road was supposed to have been tarred 15 years ago but nothing was done.
“We have seen development happening elsewhere but nothing happening here. We decided to make a follow up and I decided to invite the Minister so that he comes to have an appreciation of the reality especially that in 2004 this road was earmarked for tarring from the end of Maitengwe Border Post.
“From 2004 to date is 15 years, but nothing has happened. It is therefore the spirit of the new dispensation that pushed me into confidence that the Minister can come here and witness so that something can be done,” said Cde Phuthi. — @nqotshili