MASERU — At least 30 percent of the funds allocated for the maintenance of Lesotho’s roads was not utilised in the last financial year, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
Road Fund executive secretary, Refiloe Pule, said they only used 70 percent of the M121 million that had been allocated to maintain and rehabilitate roads last year.
Pule said the country’s road network was in a continual decline due to a serious shortage of engineers.
Pule spoke on the sidelines of a meeting of the African Road Maintenance Funds Association (ARMFA) held in Maseru last Thursday.
The meeting which was attended by seven member countries was held to prepare for the annual ARMFA meeting to be held in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in October.
The meeting was to discuss ways of improving the efficiency of road funds within the region.
“We are stuck on how we can improve,” Pule said.
“The roads are getting worse each and every year and we are running into a backlog of road rehabilitation and maintenance of the roads around the country.”
He added that the other issue that was holding back progress is the lack of engineers working in the country with a number of local engineers having left for greener pastures.
“Because of the massive construction projects in preparation for the World Cup in South Africa we were affected by the brain drain where engineers left the country.
“We are dealing here with a serious challenge of lack of personnel,” Pule said.
Lesotho’s road network stretches for 7 300 kilometres of tarred, quarry and earth roads.
But some of the roads are in a bad state due to years of neglect and lack of maintenance.
The Lesotho Road Fund’s main objective is to rehabilitate and maintain all roads in the country.
The fund collects revenue from road user fees, road maintenance levies and other fees charged on motorists.
Pule however said the levies that are being charged for the maintenance of roads are very low as they have not been adjusted over the years.
For example the fund has proposed a 150 percent increase in the road maintenance levy which is currently 30 lisente per litre to about 75 lisente per litre of petrol pending approval by the government.
The current charge for diesel is 40 lisente per litre.
Pule said revenue collection had since improved and will continue to improve as the Lesotho Revenue Authority had been tasked to collect levies on the fund’s behalf.