BEITBRIDGE- Beitbridge Rural District Council (RDC) has contracted Del Trade Construction company to rehabilitate a 15km stretch of the Centinel-Nottingham-Shashe road used to transport citrus fruits.
Beitbridge RDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Moyo confirmed the rehabilitation to Two Nations. Moyo said they identified a 25km stretch of road which needs rehabilitation and they are beginning with 15km.
He said the road has high economic value as it is used to transport citrus fruits from Shashe Irrigation Scheme to Nottingham Citrus Estate for packaging and processing. However, the quality of the fruits is negatively affected by the poor state of the road resulting in them fetching low prices.
The 15km stretch of road is being rehabilitated for $18m using funds from the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA). The road is expected to be completed in six weeks’ time.
“We have begun rehabilitation of the Centinel-Nottingham-Shashe Road and the project will be complete in six weeks-time. The road is used to transport citrus fruits from the Shashe Irrigation Scheme to Nottingham Citrus Estate for packaging and processing.
“Produce from Shashe sometimes goes for days without being transported to Nottingham because of the state of the road and the farmers are hopeful of exporting their produce to South Africa which stresses the importance of rehabilitating this road,” said Moyo.
Shashe is one of the biggest irrigation schemes in Beitbridge with 66 hectares of citrus trees which they are intercropping with sugar beans. Some 30 hectares are under wheat which is being irrigated using a center pivot. The scheme is supported by Cevsi through funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Moyo also appealed for quicker disbursements from Zinara as the local currency is being eroded by inflation thereby delaying the completion of projects by the council.
The project follows a tour of Shashe Irrigation Scheme by the Permanent Secretary of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Ministry, Simon Masanga recently. Masanga was told that farmers are struggling to transport their produce because of the state of the road.
“I am going to appeal to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development to avail funds for the roads because of its economic value. The poor road network obviously impacts on the quality of produce as they will be damaged in transit to the processing plant. Damaged produce ends up fetching low prices and this is not god for our farmers,” said Masanga after touring the scheme.