Tourists stranded as rains damage bridges

Tourists and some residents are trapped in the Mana Pools National Park after the recent heavy rains extensively damaged access bridges leading to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Food and fresh water supplies have since been affected.

Evacuation by air or by boats is now required for the people trapped in the area, while the damaged infrastructure is rehabilitated to urgently restore access to one of the much sought after safari areas.

Water purification infrastructure in the area was also damaged, leaving people without fresh water.

Heavy rains experienced in the past week saw the first bridge along the Harare- Chirundu Highway being damaged.

The damaged bridges are Rukomechi, Marongora and Chemitsi.

Hurungwe District Development officer Mr Andrew Tizora said some of the people trapped in the area were evacuated by boat yesterday, while helicopters were needed to access the area.

“The heavy rains led to the destruction of bridges in Mana Pools while some people were booked at the three camps in the area,” said Mr Tizora.

“The situation is so bad that we cannot even assess the extent of damage and the assistance required without the use of helicopters.”

A District Civil Protection Committee is monitoring the situation to make recommendations on how best the affected area can be assisted.

“We got information this afternoon (yesterday) that some of the people were evacuated by boat through the Zambezi River,” said Mr Tizora.

“However, there are still some people who need to be removed from the area until the situation and infrastructure improves.”

Mana Pools has more than 17 lodges and camps and is a hit with tourists from across the world. Efforts are underway to restore access to Kariba and Gache Gache, which were cut off following rock falls that covered the Charara-Makande Road at the Jonga Mountain.

Mana Pools National Park is home to diverse wildlife including lions, hippos, elephants, buffaloes and small game.

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