INCESSANT rains have destroyed key infrastructure such as roads, bridges, power lines and homesteads in Gokwe District.
Small irrigation projects in the district are also under threat after water reservoirs were destroyed.
Some roads have been left completely inaccessible. The Pohwe Bridge under Chief Mutendi, Mandisarara (just after Manoti on Mbungu road), Chemba and Marungu Bridge in Mapfungautsi have been submerged or destroyed.
Government’s food aid programme has been affected since the roads are no longer passable putting over 30 000 food insecure households at risk of starvation.
At the same time, the delivery of agricultural inputs from Manoti Depot into areas such as Chemba, Zhamba and Khambe is almost impossible because of the destruction of bridges and roads in the district.
River banks have burst under the weight of the floods. In Low-lying areas including Nemangwe, Gokwe Centre and Njelele, the floods damaged homes and other infrastructure.
At Gokwe Centre, a new gully has developed and is threatening Gokwe District Hospital following the incessant rains.
Gokwe Town Council is trying to avert a potential disaster and has put soil as a temporary measure which unfortunately will not last.
Pohwe Bridge is situated in Ward 8, under Chief Mutendi along Masuka-Defe-Mtimutema Road on Pohwe river.
The bridge was constructed to ensure accessibility to schools, health facilities and business centres to the Mutendi and Masuka community, serving a total population of more than 10 000 people around the two chiefdoms. The bridge also links visitors from across the world with the Zion Christian Church Shrine and Headquarters and Chirisa Game Park.
Gokwe South district development cordinator Mrs Netsai Mushauri said vital bridges such as Pohwe were destroyed by floods.
“Part of Pohwe bridge was washed away due to incessant rains received week beginning 3 January 2021. An attempt was made by the road authority, District Development Fund to rescue the situation, however the new rehabilitation works were washed away on 11 January 2021,” she said.
Ms Mushauri said the state of the roads due to incessant rains was bad.
She said there were now delays in relief food transportation from Gokwe Centre to villagers across the district.
“We feed nearly 34 000 households meaning there are thousands of vulnerable households in need of food aid who have been affected by the destruction of infrastructure. Other bridges which have been destroyed include Mandisarara ( just after Manoti on Mbungu Road) and Chemba,” said Ms Mushauri.
She said another strategic bridge, which links Gokwe South Mapfungautsi Constituency and Gokwe North Constituency, Marungu, has also been destroyed.
She said people are improvising to pass.
On the gulley at Gokwe District Hospital, she said it’s the mandate of the town council to solve the problem.
“They temporarily filled the gulley with gravel, gulley reclamation cannot be done during the rainy season. A permanent solution will be done after rainy season,” she said.
The Chronicle met villagers at Pohwe Bridge who were thinking of temporarily fixing it so that heavy vehicles mainly those ferrying food aid can pass.
“This bridge is very old and it has been showing signs of giving in over the years. We are here to see if we can make it possible to have heavy vehicles pass,” said a villager, Mr Thomas Moyo.
At the same time, pirate taxes could be seen trying to negotiate their ways on one side of the bridge, putting lives of passengers at great risk.
The pirate taxis are plying Gokwe Centre-Chitekete route against the Covid-19 lockdown rules and regulations.
Member of Parliament of the area, Professor Paul Mavima said the heavy rains had left a trail of destruction.
“In my area, Sengwa Bridge for example is destroyed, it means that areas such as Jiri, Marapira, Marirangwe and Zhamba are inaccessible. It is not just one Constituency, it is a considerable part of Gokwe South District. It is both Gokwe Sengwa and Gokwe Kana Constituencies. It is thousands of citizens being unable to access healthcare and other services that are available at Gokwe town. We are now experiencing a problem due to the destruction of the bridge at Chemba,” he said.
Prof Mavima said as a result, the delivery of agricultural inputs from Manoti Depot into areas such as Chemba, Zhamba and Khambe areas is almost impossible.
He said infrastructure is the enabler for economic development.
“Rural infrastructure is needed in order to transform and industrialise rural areas. This is an urgent matter that we can not wait on. DDF should be capacitated as a matter of urgency. It’s management and operational processes need to be modernised and prompted for efficiency and effectiveness as soon as yesterday. Executives who are not transformative have no place in such an important institution,” he said.
The destruction of infrastructure in areas such as Gokwe is a perennial issue, and when that happens, response from institutions like DDF is slow.
“As MP, sometimes you are left with the responsibility to ensure that movement occurs. This means, as MP you may have to ensure that cement is made available for the repairs or you fork out resources to ensure that the work is done.
“We seriously need to empower government institutions so that response time is limited as much as possible,” said Prof Mavima.
Chief Nemangwe called on Government to prioritise rehabilitation of the destroyed infrastructure as soon as the rain season ends.
He said now it was near impossible to venture into the rehabilitation because of the incessant rains.
Chief Nemangwe said after two successive droughts, people were in need of food aid.