Chinese chrome smelters in Gweru’s light industrial areas are causing massive damage to the Midlands capital’s road infrastructure.
Trucks transporting chrome ore to Chinese chrome smelters routinely violate Gweru City Council’s load limits leading to damage on the city’s roads.
Speaking in an interview with The Standard, Trust Chinini, the Gweru City Council’s environment, works and town planning committee chairperson, said:
The by-laws for Gweru say that the maximum tonnage for trucks that use roads in the (central business district) and those that lead to residential areas is seven tonnes.
There are clear signposts on the roads, which carry this information to road users.
However, the Chinese are using trucks with loads of between 20 to 30 tonnes. It is a cause for concern.
As the environment committee, we have talked about this at our caucus meetings. These are not documented.
However, we are planning to come up with a way forward so that there is a resolution on that matter. We want them to repair the roads.
Chinini said Gweru City Council had previously repaired the damaged roads, only for the Chinese companies to damage them in a few days. He added:
The problem is that if we repair the roads today, in a few days’ time they will have been damaged again.
We are worried as Gweru because of the conduct of Chinese companies on our roads.
The worst affected road is the one that comes from Shurugwi going up to Bristol Road leading to their smelting companies.
Gweru Residents and Rate Payers Association director Cornellia Selipiwe said:
There are so many roads that have been damaged by the Chinese trucks in Gweru.
We are worried as residents that money, which must go towards service delivery like water supplies, sewer reticulation and collection of garbage, will now be gobbled by rehabilitation of the roads.
Our water pumping plant at Gwenhoro Dam needs major refurbishments and that huge amount of money now going towards repairs of roads damaged by the Chinese could have been used there seeing that council has financial constraints.
Gweru City Council spokesperson Vimbai Chingwaramuse said the local authority will spend millions repairing the roads damaged by the Chinese. She said:
This year we have a budget of $169 million to deal with the menace.
So this comes at a huge cost, thus affecting service delivery greatly.
She said the local authority had resolved to stop absorbing the cost of repairing the damaged roads and the Chinese companies would in future be forced to pick up the bill.
We are going to invoke sections of the Town Planning Act to ensure that they repair and adopt the roads for maintenance.
It’s mainly the roads that lead to the light industries.
Kudakwashe Titus Chitakure, a human resources officer for Xi Yu (one of the Chinese chrome smelters) who is based in Gweru, said they were not allowed to talk to journalists.