GWANDA residents and a local taxi association, have petitioned their municipality over the poor state of roads in the Matabeleland South capital, warning of a rise in accidents.
Recently, 14 people died along the Bulawayo-Gwanda Road when the vehicle they were travelling in was jack-knifed by a South African registered haulage truck that had hit a pothole, resulting in the driver losing control.
Gwanda residents, in a petition dated March 15, said the municipality must urgently attend to the roads to prevent such horrific disasters.
They accused the municipality of only caring about President Robert Mugabe’s life as it busied itself fixing roads ahead of his 93rd birthday celebrations, only to suspend the exercise after the party held in Matobo, Matabeleland South.
“Your honourable office is hereby petitioned to attend to road maintenance referenced above as it is no longer worthy to be a road that is within a town. We had our hopes renewed when we realised that roads were being attended to during the eve of the 21st [February Movement] celebration, only to have the same programme suspended leaving out the most affected areas.
“Questions always resurface as in what criterion is being used to prioritise such programmes. It is our sincere belief that the council will attend to our concerns and have the road attended to as a matter of urgency,” the petition reads.
Gwanda mayor, Knowledge Ndlovu confirmed receiving the petition, and noting the residents’ complaints he argued the rains were making it difficult to rehabilitate the city’s roads.
“The residents have a right to complain, to summon council or talk to us, but I am sure that everyone is aware that we have been having incessant rains, and that made it impossible to do any road works.
“We could not fix that road when it was raining. It would have been a waste of resources as we were going to patch today, and tomorrow it would be washed away. Otherwise, council has agreed to refill the roads, and we are on it,” Ndlovu said in an interview.
In the petition, Gwanda residents said: “It is our democratic right to engage duty bearers on service delivery needs that we deem of priority. As law abiding citizens who remit tariffs and taxes to the council we, therefore, beseech with the city fathers to put an ear on the ground and respond as per the request of the residents.”