M2 billion needed for roads rehabilitation: Roads Directorate

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Moroke Sekoboto

THE government needs M2, 1 billion to upgrade at least 478 kilometres of paved roads countrywide, the Roads Directorate has said.

Of this amount, M296 million is required for light reseals on 182km of tarred roads. The resealing exercise is meant to curb further deterioration.

Roads Directorate acting director general, Khasapane Kikine, said this during a media briefing in Maseru this week.

He said M1, 81 billion of the money is needed for light and heavy rehabilitation to cover 296km. This will involve repairing structural cracking which has developed and is now beyond preventative maintenance.

Mr Kikine also said that the directorate had a repair backlog for 1703km of unpaved roads. These will require M3, 9 billion with M2, 1 billion going towards re-gravelling.

However, all these tasks will be impossible to fulfill given that the Transport ministry was only allocated M440 million for the 2022/23 fiscal year. This is against a projected M6 billion required for all the roadworks, according to Mr Kikine.

“The condition of paved roads has been ranging between 70 and 50 percent from 2010 to 2019, so there is a need for structural repair to improve roads to functional levels,” Mr Kikine said.

According to a 2020 study by the directorate, roads that are zero to 30 percent in quality were classified as “very poor” while those that were between 31 and 49 percent were “poor”. Those that were between 50 and 70 percent were “fair” while those between 70 and 85 percent were “good”. Very good roads are those between 86 and 100 percent.

However, none of Lesotho’s roads were adjudged to be over 70 percent in quality. The bulk of the paved roads were said to be between 50 and 70 percent in quality.

All unpaved roads have all been under 40 percent since 2010 with the worst figures being recorded between 2018 and 2019 when they dropped from 25 to 21 percent in 2019.

Mr Kikine said Lesotho’s road infrastructure was worth M60 billion in 2010 but had deteriorated to M20 billion as of 2019.

“The road infrastructure was initially worth M60 billion in 2010 but is currently worth M20 billion as a result of lack of maintenance and heavy rainfall.”

He also said the 2020 road network analysis indicated that Road Directorate needed at least M1, 1 billion annually to improve road quality.

“In the long term, we aim to recover and maintain the Maputsoe to Butha-Buthe road, the Butha-Buthe to Oxbow road as well as Maseru city’s main arterial roads. We are also targeting the Maqhaka to Hloahleng, Mafeteng to Mount Moorosi and Mount Moorosi to Ha-Mosi,” he said.

The directorate’s short-term goal in the current financial year includes constructing interchanges on the main crossroads to minimise congestion as well as constructing the ‘Malesaoana to Butha-Buthe road and the Kofi Annan roads from Maseru up to Masianokeng.

Mr Kikine emphasised the need for ministries and departments involved in infrastructural development to work together and make informed decisions. This will help avoid challenges that include the allocation of land earmarked for roads to residents for house construction as has been happening, he said.

“The main challenges that the Roads Directorate has faced include failure of ministries to collaborate in planning the infrastructure as the Transport ministry earmark land for road construction but later find out that the Local Government ministry would have allocated it for house construction to individuals and businesses.”

The trend, he said, had resulted in multiple lawsuits. He could, however, not be drawn into giving details about the suits.

Roads Directorate public relations manager, Nozesolo Matela, said that lack of an integrated policy and unregulated construction were among the major factors influencing the current poor road conditions.

“The unregulated transport industry, inadequate capacity by public and local private constructors and political instability also hinder the Roads Directorate to perform its obligation to its best ability,” Ms Matela said.

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