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Mutare residents slam road levy as ‘daylight robbery’

THE monthly Special Road Levy being charged on every property in Mutare has become a charade given potholed roads across the eastern border city which are now an eyesore.

The roads are now also a threat and cost to motorists and pedestrians.

A drive along major roads in Mutare revealed a sad tale of a more than 500km stretch of dilapidated local road network, some with deep gullies in the middle.

Major roads connecting residential areas like Zimta Park, Dreamhouse, Natview Park, all phases of Chikanga, all sections of Dangamvura, Sakubva, industrial areas and the Central Business District are now impassable.

In 2018, the MDC-led council introduced a Special Road Levy ostensibly to increase internal funding of road rehabilitation and maintenance.

City of Mutare spokesperson, Mr Spren Mutiwi, said funds collected from the levy were negligible and fast being eroded by inflation.

“Upon its introduction, the local authority charged a dollar per property and that was when the US$ was being rated 1:1 with the local currency.

“Of late, with the introduction of the foreign currency auction system, the US$ has gained value over the local currency and the amount we are collecting from the levy is paltry.

“We are billing about $400 000 monthly at $12 per property. After billing, the amount we are collecting is a small percentage of that $400 000. At the same time, inflation is also eroding the value of that paltry collection,” he said.

Mr Mutiwi conceded that the state of roads in the city had reached unacceptable levels.

“The local authority is aware that the state of the roads is now unacceptable. We are fully aware that most of these roads have long passed their lifespan and we are trying to find a lasting solution.

“We have been trying to maintain traficability and this explains why we have hired 150 general hands to carry out gravel patching in different roads.”

Mr Mutiwi said they were seeking to access at least US$2,3 million from ZINARA to go towards the resurfacing of Magamba and Feruka roads.

“We are in the process of accessing at least US$2,3 million from ZINARA to go towards the resurfacing of Magamba and Feruka roads. The initiative will also cover other major roads in the city.

“The issue of our roads is a legacy one whereby the current administration desperately needs to secure earth moving equipment. We have started the process of securing two graders and two tippers.

“Council has two tippers only and no functional grader,” he   said.

However, those interviewed by The Manica Post had no kind words to the local authority.

Local businessman, Mr Mathias Madakadze, said:

“I am not sure if we still have a local authority to talk about in Mutare. Surely, if we had one, these roads would not have been allowed to deteriorate to these unacceptable levels.

“I am only reminded of the existence of the City of Mutare when I receive their monthly bills. We are going through this trauma when the council is charging us a monthly Special Road Fund. What is special about these potholed roads?” fumed Madakadze.

Mr Milton Kazingizi, chipped in and said: “The state of our roads is now a risk to motorists. Freak accidents easily occur in such roads. It is also an added cost to motorists as they are forced to have their vehicles’ suspension attended to regularly. The cost of spares is just unbearable.”

Mr Gift Mugeri, who commutes to work from Dangamvura Area 16, said: “This is just unacceptable for council to continue using gravel to fill potholes. The gravel is easily eroded.”

In a statement, United Mutare Resident and Ratepayers’ Association (UMMRAT), said “The state of roads in Mutare is deplorable considering that the local authority has been collecting roads levy for over three years                                                                                                     now.

“Proactive planning by opening drainages and servicing exiting drainages could have helped in addressing the situation.”

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