Phased ap­proach for Beit­bridge high­way up­grade

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Levi Mukarati Harare Bu­reau

UP­GRAD­ING of the $1 bil­lion Beit­bridgeHarare-Chirundu High­way will take a phased ap­proach through to 2022, with works hav­ing al­ready started on some sec­tions of the key road.

The high­way is a ma­jor eco­nomic cor­ri­dor, pro­vid­ing South Africa with a link to Africa’s in­te­rior through the con­ti­nent’s busiest in­land port of en­try at Beit­bridge via Zim­babwe.

The project is be­ing fi­nanced with lo­cal re­sources af­ter for­eign con­trac­tors re­peat­edly failed to meet their obli­ga­tions and secure fund­ing.

At least nine com­pa­nies have been tasked with up­grad­ing spe­cific sec­tions. Gov­ern­ment has also di­rected lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to du­alise 10km stretches lead­ing into their ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­tres.

To this end, works have started on the high­way near Chivi and Beatrice, with other coun­cils un­der­stood to be mo­bil­is­ing equip­ment to get on site soon.

The con­struc­tion by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties is in line with Gov­ern­ment’s on­go­ing Emer­gency Road Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Pro­gramme, and will be done to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and then con­sol­i­dated into the over­all project.

In an in­ter­view last week, Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture Devel­op­ment Minister Joel Big­gie Ma­tiza said the high­way had Na­tional Project Sta­tus and work on it should re­flect such.

He said the Sec­ond Repub­lic, un­der Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, had committed it­self to eco­nomic turn­around and in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment. Minister Ma­tiza said: “The project was on the cards for a long time now and many suit­ors came on with noth­ing mov­ing. We had Geiger ex­press­ing in­ter­est to do the road, but that one failed be­cause there was no proof of fund­ing.

“The New Dis­pen­sa­tion and the Pres­i­dent can­celled that project. Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa wants it done and his vi­sion is to make that road work­able. Gov­ern­ment de­cided to lo­calise the project with lo­cal ex­per­tise and play­ers.

“We have seen, in the first phase, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties — and in this case Chivi and re­cently Beatrice — mov­ing to re­ha­bil­i­tate 10 ZIM­BABWE’S in­dus­trial growth trajectory be­gan on a pos­i­tive trend un­der Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s New Dis­pen­sa­tion, and a foun­da­tion is be­ing laid for growth, the head of an in­flu­en­tial lobby group has said.

In an in­ter­view last week, Con­fed­er­a­tion of Zim­babwe In­dus­tries pres­i­dent Mr Sife­lani Ja­bangwe said 2018 had ush­ered in in­dus­trial re-birth. The first half of 2018 saw in­dus­try record an av­er­age five per­cent in­crease in ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion from 45 per­cent to around 50 per­cent.

The fig­ure had been be­low 50 per­cent for the past five years. Ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion stood at 57,2 per­cent in 2011, it slowed to 39,6 per­cent, 36,3 per­cent and 34,3 per­cent in 2013, 2014 and 2015, re­spec­tively.

It, how­ever, in­creased to 47,4 per­cent in 2016 be­fore tum­bling to 45,1 per­cent last year, and is now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­bound. Re­flect­ing on these fig­ures, Mr Ja­bangwe said: “In 2018, there were few com­pa­nies that closed. In fact, new com­pa­nies opened while oth­ers ex­panded. For the first time in years, our worry was not on com­pany clo­sures and re­trench­ments, but con­cen­tra­tion was on the open­ing of busi­nesses.

“This year was dif­fer­ent be­cause we saw in­vest­ments rather than com­pany re­trench­ments that is why we are say­ing the pol­icy mea­sures be­ing put by Gov­ern­ment must con­tinue to be pro-man­u­fac­tur­ing. Some peo­ple are against sup­port­ing the in­dus­trial sec­tor, it is only when you sup­port in­dus­tries that the econ­omy will grow.”

Mr Ja­bangwe said spec­u­la­tive be­hav­iour and fail­ure to in­ter­pret mea­sures pre­scribed by the fiscal and pol­icy re­views had im­pacted neg­a­tively kilo­me­tres into their ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­tres. We will then award ten­ders to nine lo­cals to then wi­den the rest of the road and even­tu­ally du­alise. This will take about three-and-a-half years to com­plete.”

Minister Ma­tiza said Gov­ern­ment was or­gan­is­ing equip­ment for con­trac­tors, who will pur­chase it through their con­tracts. He said the nine con­tracts should be awarded by Fe­bru­ary 2019.

Cabi­net this year with­drew the ten­der awarded to Aus­trian firm Geiger for du­al­i­sa­tion of the Harare-Beit­bridge-Chirundu High­way, with Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa say­ing Gov­ern­ment had be­come im­pa­tient with lack of ac­tiv­ity on the project. Geiger won the ten­der com­mis­sioned work in May 2016, but failed to move on-site.

In­dus­try op­ti­mistic of growth

on in­dus­trial per­for­mance.

“From the start of the year up to Septem­ber, the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor had a very good per­for­mance with some sec­tors re­port­ing per­for­mances above those of 2017 by mar­gins of be­tween 20 to as high as 50 and 60 per­cent.

“Af­ter Septem­ber we then ex­pe­ri­enced for­eign cur­rency short­ages which af­fected busi­ness dras­ti­cally. This re­sulted in prices go­ing up with some com­modi­ties be­ing in short sup­ply of which the sit­u­a­tion was taken ad­van­tage of by spec­u­la­tors who are sell­ing prod­ucts at higher prices.”

Mr Ja­bangwe said de­spite

Septem­ber, in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity re­mained above 50 per­cent.

“The av­er­age ca­pac­ity util­i­sa­tion is still steady and we ex­pect prod­uct vol­umes to con­tinue in­creas­ing. We lost a lot of mo­men­tum in the pe­riod Septem­ber to date. It may have been nec­es­sary to have an op­por­tu­nity to cool off be­cause there was al­most a state of over­heat when we look at the per­for­mances we ex­pe­ri­enced up to Septem­ber.”

Mr Ja­bangwe ex­pressed con­fi­dence in the 2019 Na­tional Bud­get, say­ing the mea­sures pre­scribed were poised to im­prove in­dus­try.

He, how­ever, ap­pealed to Gov­ern­ment to come up with ur­gent con­tin­gent mea­sures that would im­prove in­dus­try’s ac­cess to for­eign cur­rency.

“The chal­lenges we are hav­ing are those of for­eign cur­rency. The sit­u­a­tion was wors­ened af­ter the sep­a­ra­tion of Nostro and RTGS be­cause the net gen­er­a­tors of for­eign cur­rency do not have to sell their cur­rency. Those that re­quire for­eign cur­rency to import raw ma­te­ri­als do not have a mech­a­nism to trade with these for­eign cur­rency gen­er­a­tors be­cause it is now il­le­gal to trade. trou­bles of


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