President to launch $2,7bn road project
PRESIDENT Mugabe will next week commission the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway after the Government awarded tenders for the $2, 7 billion project to two companies from Austria and China. The project will take three years to complete. In an interview on the sidelines of the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) national driver’s awards held on Sunday night at a Gweru hotel, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Cde Joram Gumbo, said officials from Austrian construction firm, Geiger Pvt Ltd and a Chinese company, China Harbour, were already in the country negotiating with the Government on the implementation strategy.
Cde Gumbo said the two companies were also required to set aside a percentage of the work for local companies.
He said work on the 897-kilometre stretch from Chirundu to Beitbridge would gobble an estimated $2,7 billion.
“The first few kilometres from Beitbridge border post were awarded to local companies and work has already started. They are resurfacing and widening the road. For the dualisation we have awarded the contracts to Austrian Construction Company Geiger (Pvt) Ltd and Chinese Company China Harbour (Chec),” Cde Gumbo said.
“They are already in the country and we have started negotiations with them to find out what percentage of works they are going to give to our locals and also the implementation process. We are discussing and in the first week of August we are going to be commissioning the construction of this road and there will be a ground breaking ceremony which President Mugabe will officiate.
“We are prioritising this road as Government because it’s the busiest road in Southern Africa and Beitbridge Border post is the busiest port of entry/exit in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Cde Gumbo said the stretch would be segmented into eight to speed up the dualisation process.
“We will segment it into five segments between Beitbridge and Harare and three between Harare and Chirundu so that we can quickly finish the dualisation. We are going to make a ring road surrounding Harare. We are also looking forward to dualising the Beitbridge-Victoria Falls and Harare-Nyamapanda roads. We are expecting the work to be completed in three years’ time,” he said.
The project was once stalled due to a court challenge by Zim Highways Consortium, a grouping of local firms that had initially been awarded the tender in 2002 but allegedly failed to raise the required capital.
This resulted in the withdrawal of the tender and the consortium approached the courts for relief.
However, the dispute between the Government and the consortium was resolved last year with Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Mr Munesu Munodawafa saying the project was expected to proceed.
The rehabilitation and dualisation of the BeitbridgeHarare-Chirundu highway has been cited as one of the major projects under government’s Zim-Asset economic turnaround blueprint.
The highway has recorded a lot of accidents due to the huge volumes of traffic and dualisation has been identified as a long-term solution to the problem.