Nqobile Tshili, columnist
The highway fence funded by the Zimbabwe Road Safety Council (TSCZ) to prevent cattle from getting lost on the highway between Gweru and Ntabazinduna has been vandalized.
In 2017, TSCZ funded the erection of a delimitation fence on both sides of the highway between Gweru and Ntabazinduna at a cost of USD 320,000.
The boundary fence has been cut into sections by thieves and cattle and donkeys are back on the highway, posing a danger to motorists.
A Chronicle press team observed that in many sections the fencing was completely removed, resulting in cattle and donkeys returning to the road.
People living along the highway have blamed people from faraway places for the theft. They say the people who vandalize the boundary fence operate at night and therefore it was difficult to apprehend them.
Locals said they could not destroy the fence as it was beneficial to them as it kept their cattle and donkeys from getting lost on the road.
TSCZ’s acting director of operations research and marketing Mr. Earnest Muchena said there was concern that some sections of the fence had been destroyed by thieves.
TSCZ financed the closure of the highway between Gweru and Ntabazinduna. We actually engaged the communities living along the highway to do the job. Unfortunately, we noted with concern that some sections of the fence have been removed by thieves.
We would like to call on members of the public to ensure that they do not destroy national infrastructure, especially this road fence which has been erected to reduce accidents caused by stray cattle, ”Muchena said.
He said communities should take ownership of projects that benefit them.
Mr Muchena said TSCZ had already engaged the police on the matter.
“We would like to appeal to community members to jealously guard the infrastructure that benefits them. We hired the ZRP to investigate and arrest the culprits as we believe they are in the communities. We asked the residents who erected the fence to help us identify the stolen fence, ”Muchena said.
Mbembesi’s Chief Ndondo said it was disappointing that the fence meant to protect their cattle had been vandalized.
“When the fence was erected, I hosted a reception with my community to celebrate the good work, but our celebrations were short-lived as thieves started cutting the fence just weeks after it was erected.
We lose a lot of cattle getting killed on the roads and those who vandalize the fence are not from this area because the locals appreciate the benefits of this fence. We suspect that it is the people from the resettlement areas who come and steal the fence because it is not their cattle that are being killed on the highway, ”he said.
Chief Ndondo said he believes the same people who steal their cattle are also vandalizing the fence.
National police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Paul Nyathi said road accidents involving motorists hitting stray cattle are on the increase.
“It is unfortunate that people are stealing or vandalizing highway fences designed to prevent livestock from getting lost on the highways. Residents should help police apprehend these vandals as it is their cattle or donkeys that are killed when they get lost on the highway, Ass Comm Nyathi said.
He also said there was a need for community leaders to engage their communities to develop border fence protection strategies. – @nqotshili