Rwenya, the bridge that brought back life to Nyanga and Mudzi
Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa
A bridge is not a structure or system, but a service that improves people’s lives and livelihoods. This is so because bridges are part of road infrastructure and therefore play a crucial role by providing mobility for the efficient movement of people and goods, as well as providing accessibility to a wide variety of commercial and social activities
While the end of education is service to others, it’s apparently clear that for a country that boasts of one of the highest literacy rate in Africa, this country is not blessed with educated people, merely literate. I say this with a grieving heart and were one to try and carry out a research, certainly he will not be short of material to prove the assertion.
Not an irrigation system revived, dip tank, road, borehole, dam, or bridge that has been constructed has been praised by the lunatic fringe. All have been hit by a myriad of criticism.
One would think, having learned people, they would understand basics such as the purpose of bridges in building economies. But oh no, they are totally illiterate in that regard. Questions that bombard us from the social media lunatic fringe are: do we eat bridges?
Well, yes we do! In recent years, economists have recognized three key things bridges do that propel economic activity.
#1 – Bridges are a critical component of a nation’s infrastructure, making it possible to ship raw materials and finished goods to factories, warehouses, suppliers, distributors, stores, and end-consumers. Bridges also facilitate travel so consumers can purchase goods and services in their own communities and beyond. When a bridge closes, economic activity slows or grinds to a complete halt.
#2 – Wages earned by bridge construction and maintenance workers have a positive economic impact when used to buy things at local businesses. An investment in wages, and the related consumer spending that results from it, is proven to pay off many times over.
#3 – Bridges increase cash flow when they join two places that complement each other economically. It can have a powerful impact when an area that has a large money supply is connected to one that has goods or services to sell or people who need work. The same is true when a community that has raw materials gains easy access to another that has factories able to convert them into saleable goods.
Pembi, Nyamatickiti, Karanda and Rwenya are among the bridges ED Mnangagwa built and all were lampooned by the armchair ‘learned’, employ us crew. I won’t focus on all the bridges but will dwell on what Brian Sedze said about Rwenya Bridge. Brian Sedze is a government critic and vocal opposition supporter.
Commenting on Facebook, Sedze said, “Firstly, this bridge doesn’t belong to Zanu Pf or ED. Secondly, it is not a very huge bridge. Third, when doing a capital project the size or value must not exceed utility like constructing a “modern” two-way road or bridge when probably less than 50 vehicles use the road.”
Sedze went on to outline that for that particular road it was completely unnecessary and over expenditure to build a two-way bridge because of the very low but high-impact traffic flow on it. While he wasn’t sure if President Mnangagwa should have officially commissioned the bridge he did highlight for the unread and unsearched that the USA as a comparison has 68% of all rural bridges as single lane bridges.
Turning to his connection with Rwenya bridge and how it personally impacts him, Sedze said, “My second home is this area. My family has homes near this place. My grandparents, parents, cousins and sibling are buried there. I say this because I want you to understand I speaking from a position of knowledge and intimacy with the area. The reality on the ground is people there are happy and the unhappy ones are us in cities, other capitals and social media.”
Turning to health, he said that before the construction of the bridge, the nearest hospital was Rusape General and Nhowe Mission Hospital. The other hospital was St Michael’s Danji where he himself was born but it takes no admissions for serious ailments. This bridge has enabled people in the area to access Nyanga General which will be less than 60ks.That’s according to Sedze, a huge impact.
On economic activities, Sedze said, “Previously access to banking, farm inputs and equipment, building supplies, etc was Rusape. Tobacco, watermelon, round nuts and groundnuts and maize farmers had to rely on middlemen to take produce to Headlands and Marondera which impacted pricing.”
Turning to the social impact, Sedze said, “The people who reside in this area came there after tribal Trust land was created. Their relatives are mostly in Nyanga. Unlike most people who are Maungwe in Makoni, the people who live in the vicinity of Rwenya Bridge are originally from Nyanga tribes. My family’s original home is Nyanga but a lot were displaced to live in this part of the area. The bridge’s impact of connecting with their family is huge.”
Sedze signed off saying, “I know we may not like ED but this bridge was a masterstroke for the area and the people who live there are happy.”
And I say, this is what is lost to the lunatic fringe, the infrastructure is not for them to be happy, rather, it is about the people who reside in the areas to access essential services and connect with the rest of the world and therefore must be the happy ones.