A high level meeting between Harare City Council and the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) has ironed out differences that made headlines a few weeks ago over disbursement of rehabilitation funds.
In the meeting Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume and ZINARA board chairperson George Manyaya finally come face to face and agreed to relook government policy on funds disbursement agreed 21 years ago.
ZINARA’s board and management and Harare Council had been locked in a ‘hen and egg’ dispute regards who should do what over the funds.
Mafume argued ZINARA had failed to disburse millions of US dollars for their use while the roads authority maintained it could only do so after the City Fathers acquitted how they used past allowances.
Speaking during the meeting Mafume said they had realised that a councils’ resolution passed in 2002 was denying Harare access to adequate funding.
The resolution passed by all 92 of Zimbabwe’s councils agreed to share equitably the sum total of all road related fees.
Mafume however questioned the agreement, arguing it was no longer applicable, that since Harare had the highest number of vehicles it should get a lion’s share or at the very least, each council should stand on its own.
“We tried to iron out our differences. We made our demands and suggested the way forward,” said Mafume after the meeting.
He added: “We discussed regularity of disbursements and their inadequacy as we have missed out on over US$2 million in five years.
“We suggested that since Harare motorists pay the bulk of vehicle licences they have a legitimate expectation that their money will be used to fix Harare roads not any other.
“ZINARA promised to look at the formula used to disburse funds which was done in the 2000s. The board promised to present this to the minister urgently so we relook at the formula.”
According to a source privy to developments, the meeting was requested by Manyaya after Mafume’s outburst last week.
Added Mafume: “We are asking the public to work with us as we workout modalities for our road network. We should do better for the motoring public, there is no excuse for what it is experiencing on a daily basis.
“We must depoliticise issues to do with roads because they do not ask for political affiliation.
“The ZINARA that is before us is a new ZINARA, different from the ZINARA I was talking about of massages and I do hope with a new chairperson live up to their word.”
Although ZINARA has over the past year been lauded for a job well done as a result of its work on highways and better management, road networks in the country’s urban areas are still in a deplorable state.
Potholes have become a common site in almost all residential and industrial areas, while rural gravel roads have been ignored.
Government and councils have taken turns to blame each other for the poor state.