The online space which is often used to recommend tourism locations globally has raised a red flag over why travelling to Binga may not be attractive.
John Rushton, a retired expert with over 30 years experience in Foreign Aid distribution and now a resident in the United Kingdom, says Binga roads are a turn-off for any tourist. He adds that the district is blessed with a basket of tourism attractions but remains underdeveloped and shunned by tourists because of the poor state of roads.
“I can say that I have travelled on every road in Zimbabwe. My main employment was transport distribution. I have travelled on the road that you wish to travel on that runs between Binga and Karoi, which is gravel and not tarred,” Rushton says in response on a tourist blog to a tourist who intended to visit Binga. The road that runs from Binga to Karoi is definitely a no go area for cars definitely, not caravans, and I personally would not travel on that road with a 4 x4 pick-up. These roads are very rarely maintained,” says Rushton.
Binga is located on the Southeastern shore of Lake Kariba in Matabeleland North province. It is home to thousands of the BaTonga people. The district remains neglected in terms of infrastructure developments despite being blessed with one of the best tourist attractions in the country.
A scenic view of the Zambezi River viewing, a sand beach, hot springs, fishing, crocodile farm, game reserves, swamps in Simatelele ward, several stunning gorges, natural rock outcrops and a rich culture greets any visitor to the district. But a poor road network in Binga is a drawback, denying the district potential tourism revenue and attendant development. Because of the poor roads, the area is shunned by businesses willing to set up shops in the district and even commuter transport operators.
In 2020, the poor state of roads in Binga was exposed when humanitarian organisations and other aid agencies struggled for days to reach the Nsungulwe area after the area was hit by flash floods that displaced over 200 people. On February 9, 2021, the government declared the country’s roads a national disaster before launching the Emergency Roads rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2). But despite the evident deterioration of road infrastructure in Binga, no significant attention has been given to the district.
Moffat Mutale, Binga Residents Association executive member, thinks a good road infrastructure is a key to developing Binga. “Because of poor roads, market links to our products like kapenta and fish become difficult to reach. Fares of transport also become too high as transporters try to compensate for the damages to their vehicles. Tourists fail to visit the area resulting in revenue loss that is supposed to develop the area,” Mutale told The Citizen Bulletin.
The District Development Fund (DDF), which is in charge of road rehabilitation projects in rural areas, has done little over the years to fix Binga roads. DDF coordinator for Matabeleland North Fidelia Lumano could not be reached for comment.
In 2019, work commenced on the new Karoi-Binga road, directly linking the Matabeleland North and Mashonaland West provinces. The road, if completed, reduces the journey by over 200km from Harare to Binga and Victoria Falls. However, there is little progress to date.
A resident who spoke to this publication expressed displeasure in how marginalized communities continue to suffer from a lack of development.
“Most of the tourists shun our area due to poor roads. If the rains come again, and with the current state of roads, it will be difficult to move farming inputs ahead of another farming season. ADRA and Christian Care drivers always have a torrid time with these roads. So, we continue suffering,” says Mudimba.
Speaking to The Citizen Bulletin, Binga Rural District Council (RDC) chief executive officer (CEO) Joshua Muzamba absolved the council of failure to rehabilitate the Binga-Karoi road, saying the responsibility falls under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
“Dete- Binga and Binga – Karoi roads are under the oversight of the Ministry of Transport. But, about those under rural district council, I am currently out of the office to give correct details on roads. You can call our roads engineer.”
Binga RDC roads engineer Zibusiso Nyoni was not reachable.
Source: The Citizen Bulletin