Pres­i­dent to launch $2,7bn road pro­ject

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mun­yaradzi Musi­iwa Mid­lands Correspondent

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.

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