The Mozambican Ministry of Public Works expects to spend five billion meticais (about 82 million US dollars, at current exchange rates) on routine road maintenance this year.
Public Works Minister Carlos Bonete announced this figure on Wednesday at the opening in Maputo of a meeting of the Southern Africa Focus Group of the African Road Maintenance Funds Association.
He told the meeting that every year his ministry allocates a large slice of its budget to routine road maintenance, including the maintenance of rural roads.
Bonete stressed the importance of the rural road network, as a central factor in the value chains of agricultural production and productivity and artisanal fishing. A well maintained road network was crucial for achieving the government’s goals of increasing household income and reducing poverty.
He stressed the need to deal with overloaded trucks, pointing out that overloading is one of the main causes of the premature deterioration in the condition of access roads.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Focus Group, John Ipinge, using World Bank statistics, said that about 40 per cent of the African roads built since the 1960s have ceased to exist.
“What we are talking about in terms of reforming the road sector is adopting measures to guarantee that each kilometre of road built, whether in the cities or in the countryside, will have a life of 20 to 30 years”, stressed Ipinge,. That meant it was important to guarantee appropriate maintenance.
The challenge issued by Bonete to the regional body was to reflect on legislation and other measures that would be effective in ending the overloading of trucks and the consequent deterioration of the roads.
Ipinge said Africa’s economic growth is expressed in changes in managing public infrastructure, particularly roads. African countries were increasingly adopting the principle that “the user pays”, by establishing toll roads so that the owners of vehicles contribute to the fund used to ensure maintenance and thus the quality of the roads.