Phased approach for Beitbridge highway upgrade
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