‘Im­pres­sive progress on roads’

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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Let me start by say­ing that we just had a two-day work­shop with our paras­tatals and roads depart­ment in the min­istry, and the depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for VID (Ve­hi­cle In­spec­tion Depart­ment).

Roads

We had all our pro­vin­cial en­gi­neers at this work­shop and we got a re­port from them re­gard­ing the state of road re­pairs across the coun­try.

I must say that (the) progress that has been made is im­pres­sive.

Within the next 100 days, we will be an­nounc­ing sec­tions of roads which have been com­pleted. There is no doubt that we need con­sid­er­able amounts of money to do this. Some of the money is avail­able, but we need much more to en­sure the state of road in­fra­struc­ture in Zim­babwe is of a higher level.

The qual­ity of roads that have been at­tended to, those driv­ing in these roads can tes­tify that they are of very higher stan­dards. We are go­ing to be con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous models to raise money to en­sure that we quickly move with de­vel­op­ment on all the roads across the coun­try.

Of course, we will look at all the models, look at peo­ple who can de­velop the roads and put tolls on that. We will also look at those who come with fi­nances of all sorts and we think that we should be able to achieve cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of these roads as soon as we have clar­ity on the needs of the en­tire net­work.

I can­not say ex­actly the spe­cific fig­ures for the sim­ple rea­son that I didn’t add up the fig­ures that are needed for each sec­tion, but I think we have enough work to take us to maybe the first quar­ter of next year, and I think we will have im­proved a lot of roads in that re­gard.

We will be en­gag­ing the Min­istry of Fi­nance for pos­si­ble fund­ing on these roads.

In the past, we tended to be more out­ward look­ing in terms of get­ting fi­nance for roads, but we are go­ing to be very strict in terms of the cost­ing for the roads, we want to en­sure that what can be done by Zim­bab­weans should be done; what can be supplied in­ter­nally, should be supplied in­ter­nally.

There are a va­ri­ety of rea­sons for this, we want to save on for­eign cur­rency, we also want to help Zim­bab­wean com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als to cre­ate em­ploy­ment, so we are go­ing to be much fo­cused on cost­ing of the roads with a view that our lo­cal peo­ple will also par­tic­i­pate in this. We think that this will give us a great deal of sav­ings, and that will help us to im­prove the roads much faster and ef­fec­tively.

I think we need, as a coun­try, to be very care­ful when we ne­go­ti­ate con­tracts. We need to be very gran­u­lar in terms of ex­am­in­ing the com­pa­nies that we are deal­ing with, their track records and that type of thing.

In­deed, there are some roads which have been con­structed and they have been swept away.

That speaks to a num­ber of things, not only the qual­ity of ma­te­rial that has been used, but also su­per­vi­sion of these projects by Gov­ern­ment, so we are go­ing to be very strict on our of­fi­cials to en­sure that the qual­ity of work is be­ing done up to the re­quired stan­dards.

We are also go­ing to be very strict with con­trac­tors who give us slip­shod work and we will make every ef­fort to re­cover what Gov­ern­ment paid out to such com­pa­nies.

Chirundu-Harare-Beit­bridge du­al­i­sa­tion

Let me say that this is one of the roads that is of crit­i­cal na­tional im­por­tance for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Ob­vi­ously, there has been a lot of carnage on this road be­cause of its state and I think that pro­cesses for it get­ting re­paired are more than a year old now, and we have lost one year, so I have just come from a meet­ing now where we are go­ing to be in­ter­ro­gat­ing the causes for these de­lays.

We would like to en­sure that we de­liver this project by com­menc­ing as soon as pos­si­ble.

There seems to have been a grid­lock with re­gard to the com­mence­ment of the road works and so we are go­ing, in the com­ing weeks, to be meet­ing the fi­nanciers as well as our own of­fi­cials with a view to en­sur­ing that we, as soon as pos­si­ble, start work on that road in the com­ing weeks.

I am not able to give the date be­cause that meet­ing has not taken place yet, but I can as­sure you that it’s a mat­ter with which we are seized with in a very se­ri­ous man­ner for the rea­sons that I have men­tioned.

The fact that it’s a road that will en­able us to ac­cess the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and also even lo­cal mar­kets means it’s a very im­por­tant road that we need to at­tend to.

We have looked at each road and we want to un­der­stand from our en­gi­neers in var­i­ous prov­inces the im­por­tance of the roads and their im­pact. They are com­pil­ing the sta­tis­tics, they are not im­me­di­ately avail­able, this is im­por­tant for us in terms of pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of the roads.

There are ar­eas which are very des­per­ate, there are cer­tain roads which maybe can be put at the tail-end, and there are roads that will im­pact the tourism where we want to be im­pact­ful by en­sur­ing that tourists that will come in are able to ac­cess those roads.

We have got the Kanyemba Road, for ex­am­ple. We want roads that will en­able us to get into Mozam­bique and into Zam­bia at the same time, so we are also go­ing to be en­gag­ing our neigh­bours to en­sure that there is con­gru­ence in our trans­porta­tion poli­cies and we agree to go for­ward with re­gards to spe­cific roads.

Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe

Yes, one of my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is to be hands-on, so in the work­shop that I men­tioned, which started on Wed­nes­day (Sep­tem­ber 19) and ended on Sep­tem­ber 20, we en­gaged both our boards and man­age­ment with re­gards to the de­lays in de­vel­op­ing the in­fra­struc­ture.

We un­der­stand that there are is­sues con­cern­ing Transnet, which is the part­ner. There are gov­er­nance is­sues, trans­for­ma­tions that are tak­ing place there, they are cost­ing us a great deal, so we will be look­ing into the fu­ture of those ar­range­ments with a view to en­sur­ing that we try and fast-track progress as much as pos­si­ble.

So, in terms of my con­tri­bu­tion to this, we are en­sur­ing that we have got an agree­ment that is en­force­able; that al­lows work to start as soon as is rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble.

If the cur­rent ar­range­ments are not work­ing, we have got to look at al­ter­na­tives so the ini­tial step is that we are go­ing to be meet­ing the in­ter­ested par­ties, the fi­nanciers and Transnet, to­gether with NRZ man­age­ment and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of their board, to come up with a de­fin­i­tive po­si­tion in the next few weeks and agree to con­tinue or whether not to con­tinue.

But what we know is we must have a bind­ing agree­ment which is ca­pa­ble of im­ple­men­ta­tion with re­gards to the rail­ways.

We are go­ing to re-eval­u­ate some of these con­tracts be­cause our ob­ser­va­tion is that in the past, maybe the con­tracts haven’t been strictly ex­am­ined to see whether there is suf­fi­cient pro­tec­tion of the na­tional in­ter­est of Zim­babwe.

But once we go through that and we un­der­stand the cost struc­ture of the work that needs to be done, we will then be able to agree with who­ever has been se­lected to do the work – whether it’s the cur­rent part­ner or an­other en­tity – with a view to en­sur­ing that the na­tional in­ter­est of Zim­babwe is pro­tected.

We need to give the pub­lic a time­line, it is very im­por­tant.

Zi­nara

As you know, the ar­range­ment is that Zi­nara gives the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties funds. We are go­ing to be look­ing at the au­dits, my­self and the Min­is­ter (Joel Ma­tiza), we haven’t had the op­por­tu­nity to go through the au­dit re­ports.

We want to see that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are ac­tu­ally do­ing this work and they are ac­quit­ting the funds they have been given so that more funds can be made avail­able.

So we are not go­ing to al­low the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to hold us back where they are not able or have not done what is re­quired.

Gov­ern­ment will step in and take mea­sures that will en­sure that the roads are done. Where funds have been abused, there will be con­se­quences for peo­ple who would have en­gaged in that. So we will be able, like I said, in the next few weeks, to give you a list of the road sec­tions we will be open­ing.

Air Zim­babwe

Well, I have just come from a meet­ing now where we were seized with the is­sues at Air Zim­babwe. As you know, there is no gov­er­nance struc­ture there at the mo­ment and there is an ad­min­is­tra­tor who has been ap­pointed to deal with those is­sues re­lat­ing to Air Zim­babwe.

Our in­ten­tion is to en­sure that all our planes are air­borne and that Air Zim­babwe comes back to prof­itabil­ity.

We have given tasks to the board and to man­age­ment and we are look­ing at le­gacy is­sues.

The debts that have been there to en­sure that the bal­ance sheet has been cleaned up, but prof­itabil­ity is go­ing to be key. We think this is achiev­able. We think that the routes are prof­itable and so in the next few weeks, we are go­ing to be mak­ing pub­lic pro­nounce­ments re­gard­ing Air Zim­babwe.

The new team in the Min­istry of Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture is a game-changer on its own.

We are not go­ing to ac­cept empty prom­ises, we have made that point very clear.

We are go­ing to give tasks to both the board and man­age­ment.

We are go­ing to give them tar­gets, which if not achieved, there are go­ing to be con­se­quences within the board and man­age­ment.

So I can as­sure you in terms of man­age­ment and over­sight, we are go­ing to en­sure that there is good cor­po­rate gov­er­nance and the con­duct by the air­line and the man­age­ment board is in ac­cor­dance with the le­gal re­quire­ments of the cor­po­rate gov­er­nance so that we have re­sults.

If there are no re­sults that are sat­is­fac­tory to Gov­ern­ment, we will take ac­tion.

Prepara­tory work is also hap­pen­ing. That’s some­thing that we need and have to do in light of the fact that Gov­ern­ment has taken the ap­proach that says that the skies are open and clearly there is con­sid­er­able in­ter­est in other air­lines to come into our air space, and it means we have to take a long-term view of our air­port and right-size to en­sure that var­i­ous sizes of air­planes can come in. I think it is im­por­tant. The fact that Gov­ern­ment has taken the at­ti­tude that it is go­ing to en­gage with other coun­tries makes it de­sir­able and nec­es­sary to have a big­ger air­port that al­lows big­ger planes to land.

At the mo­ment, we have this prob­lem that cer­tain sizes of planes may not be able to land at our air­port, so it is re­ally a very nec­es­sary thing. It is not elit­ist.

As a re­sult of Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of for­eign en­gage­ment, this means we will have a lot of peo­ple com­ing to Zim­babwe.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment, Mr For­tune Chasi re­cently had a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with Zim­pa­pers Tele­vi­sion Net­work (ZTN). Be­low, we pub­lish the tran­script of the full in­ter­view

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