Conrad Mupesa West Mashonaland Office
The use of starch enzymes mixed with gravel to make the surface layers of tough gravel roads is now likely to come to Zimbabwe as the government plans to set up the factory needed to make the enzymes, Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Mike Madiro said yesterday. .
The required nanotechnology has been adopted to improve rural gravel roads in many developed countries, producing much more sustainable roads that are still much cheaper than roads coated with hard surfaced asphalt.
The benefits for Zimbabwe are many.
Not only would rural roads be harder and with more durable surfaces, the addition of enzymes would be local and not imported, and significant jobs would be created in the road construction sectors.
Speaking during the visit to the Alaska-Copper Queen Highway in the Makonde District, which connects the western Mashonaland to the Midlands and shortens the distance between Harare and the northern Gokwe district by more than 100 km, Deputy Minister Madiro said that perennial leveling of roads has an impact on the environment and chews up huge sums of money.
Year after year, we level our roads and in the province, we create siltation of our rivers and dams by taking a layer of the road which is washed away by the rains, ”he said.
The idea of nanotechnology is to offer a product strong enough to withstand seasonal rains in order to give a longer life in terms of road durability.
The technology creates smaller particles in terms of compaction and in doing so prevents rain from sifting through and creating spaces that collapse the road.
Deputy Minister Madiro said the materials for the technology were available locally and once approved by experts they would save half the amount required to build a gravel road.
Regarding the Alaska-Copper Queen Highway, whose modernization work began after a three-year hiatus, Deputy Minister Madiro said graveling and reworking of damaged bridges would be carried out while the tar coating of the first phase would be carried out by February of next year.
The government has since awarded the tender to a local company, Fossil Construction, which has already completed at least 20 km of the 65 km section.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa emphasizes economic empowerment and emancipation, which is achievable if the roads are passable. Our rural communities are the main engines of the agricultural economy which is the economic foundation of the county and, as such, the transport of agricultural inputs and products needs passable roads. ”
Deputy Minister of Information, Advertising and Broadcasting Services and regional legislator Kindness Paradza, who accompanied Deputy Minister Madiro, said the road rehabilitation and subsequent modernization will reduce transport fares.
People had to pay rates of at least US $ 7 for a 30 km stretch, but since the rehabilitation of the first 20 km from Alaska, the rates have fallen to US $ 2, he said.
While many transporters of agricultural inputs and products avoid the road, those who choose to provide services charge exorbitant prices.
Makonde Rural District Council Chairman Alderman Simbarashe Ziyambi said the road works eased the burden on the council and the farmers who took care of making it fairly passable.
The villagers are also happy with the resumption of rehabilitation and upgrading.