Zimbabwe Road Network

By | December 31, 2022

The regional roads and primary roads in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, a network of 88,100 kilometers of road has been classified, of which 17,400 kilometers are paved.

According to wholevehicles, the road network of Zimbabwe is divided into two road classes with road numbers, the regional roads and the primary roads. Despite the name, regional roads are the most important roads and primary roads are an additional network of mostly paved roads.

The country has a relatively extensive network of paved roads. Modern designed roads serve all larger towns in the country and the secondary roads open up the countryside, which are by no means always paved. The state of maintenance of the main roads is variable. Harare is the main hub of the country and also has a half ring road through the north of the city. There are no motorways in Zimbabwe, but in and around Harare there is a developed road network of double carriageways. In Harare almost all streets are paved.

Characteristic of Zimbabwean urban planning is that the centers of large cities are often surrounded by green belts and parks, making the center a kind of urban island within the larger urban area. The Zimbabwean cities are more modern than in many neighboring countries, many cities grew significantly in the 1950s and 1960s and have a more modern urban road network than cities in, for example, Mozambique, Malawi or Zambia.

Zimbabwe has relatively few border crossings with neighboring countries, in fact it only has one major border crossing with each neighboring country. The Plumtree border crossing with Botswana is modern, where the R2 becomes the Botswana A1 to Francistown. At Victoria Falls is a border crossing with Zambia, where the R9 becomes the Zambian T1 to Lusaka. At Chirundu the Zimbabwean R3 changes into the Zambian T2 to Lusaka. At the town of Mutare, the R5 becomes the N6 towards Beira in Mozambique. The main border crossing is with South Africa, where at Beitbridge the R1 becomes the South African N1 to Pietersburg. Very large border facilities are located here, this has traditionally been the most important border crossing in southern Africa.

Regional Roads

The regional roads form the main road network of Zimbabwe. They connect the major cities and major border crossings. Most of the intercity traffic is handled on these roads. Most regional roads are relatively modern designed single lane roads where high driving speeds are possible if the road condition allows it.

Regional Roads in Zimbabwe
R1 • R2 • R3 • R4 • R5 • R6 • R7 • R8 • R9

Motorways

Zimbabwe has no highways and no roads similar to them. There are no grade separated connections in the country.

Road management

The road authority in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA). ZINARA was founded on August 1, 2001. ZINARA mainly manages the financing of the road network. The agency comes under the Ministry of Transport & Infrastructure Development.

Toll roads

In the period 2013-2014, toll stations were built on various roads. The roads themselves have not been converted, but are maintained with a toll charge. The toll roads are under the control of ZINARA. There are several dozen toll stations in Zimbabwe.

History

An extensive network of modern paved roads has already been developed in Zimbabwe during the British colonial period and the time of Rhodesia. Zimbabwe’s paved road network at that time was considerably more extensive than its later neighbours, except perhaps South Africa. All important cities at that time were already connected by wide paved roads where high driving speeds were possible. Not only were the main main roads paved, but a relatively large number of secondary roads had already been paved from there, a big difference with a neighboring country such as Mozambique or Zambia. The most extensive road network was found from Harare and Bulawayo and the connection between them. Almost all A-roads were paved at that time,

After independence in 1980, some time was invested in the road network, also by the African Development Bank. Zimbabwe inherited one of the most modern road networks in Africa at the time, but due to the economic downturn, investment declined sharply from the 1990s and many roads were in progressively worse condition. After 2010, somewhat megalomaniacal plans were launched to double the country’s major roads to 2×2 lanes over many hundreds of miles, plans costing many billions of dollars at a time when Zimbabwe was in a deep economic crisis with hyperinflation. Not much has come of these projects, but some of Harare’s approach roads have doubled in the period 2012-2020, to 40-50 kilometers outside the city. Real highways have not been built in Zimbabwe, however.

Road numbering

In Zimbabwe there is a road numbering system of Regional Roads (prefix ‘R’) and Primary Roads (prefix ‘P’). The regional roads are the most important, the primary roads complement this. The regional roads are numbered from R1 to R9. The primary roads are numbered from P1 to P14. These numbers are also signposted.

Route numbering

# No. Route Length
R1 Harare – Masvingo – Beitbridge – South Africa border 582 km
R2 Harare – Gweru – Bulaway – Botswana border 552 km
R3 Harare – Chinhoyi – Chirundu – Zambia border 354 km
R4 Harare – Nyambanda – Mozambique border 236 km
R5 Harare – Marondera – Mutare – Mozambique border 270 km
R6 Chivhu – Nyazura 196 km
R7 Gweru – Mvuma 82 km
R8 Rutenga – Sango – border Mozambique 150 km
R9 Beitbridge – Gwanda – Bulawayo – Lupane – Victoria Falls – Zambia border 756 km

History

Previously, Zimbabwe had a network of A-roads that had existed since at least the 1970s. These routes were numbered from the A1 to A18. In this system there were two radial networks, the A1 to A5 were radial roads from Harare, the A6 to A9 were radial roads from Bulawayo. The numbering of A-roads was discontinued around 2010 but still appeared on many maps until well after.

  • A1 Harare – Chinhoyi – Zambian border 335 km
  • A2 Harare – Kotwa – Mozambican border 230 km
  • A3 Harare – Mutare – Mozambican border 265 km
  • A4 Harare – Masvingo – Beitbridge – South African border 570 km
  • A5 Harare – Kwekwe – Gweru – Bulawayo 400 km
  • A6 Bulawayo – Beitbridge 315 km
  • A7 Bulawayo – Botswana Border 110 km
  • A8 Bulawayo – Victoria Falls – Zambian border 450 km
  • A9 Bulawayo – Masvingo – Mutare 515 km

Signage

In 2017, Zimbabwe officially adopted the Highway Code and the South African Development Community (SADC) signage and signage. Until December 2025, there was a transition phase.

Maximum speed

The speed limit in Zimbabwe is 60 km/h within built-up areas and 120 km/h outside built-up areas. However, 120 is only allowed on paved roads with a wide carriageway, 80 km/h applies on narrower roads.

Zimbabwe Road Network