The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Work on Christmas Pass bypass road to start soon

- Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter

PLANS to construct a 33km stretch of road to divert trucks round Christmas Pass in Mutare to take them directly to an upgraded Forbes Border Post at the edge of the city are now at an advanced stage after Government recently entered into a partnershi­p with local contractor Leengate Private Limited.

Government is also set to relocate the Grand Reef Airport in Mutare to Mutasa South District for a new modern airport while other roads around Mutare are also going to be rehabilita­ted under the Emergency Road Rehabilita­tion Programme Phase 2 (ERRP2).

Significan­t progress in the rehabilita­tion of a number of roads across the country has been made to ensure they are usable.

The planned Christmas Pass bypass comes after numerous accidents in the area, particular­ly involving heavy vehicles.

Barely a week passes by without an accident being recorded at Christmas Pass, with some of them being fatal. In some of the cases, goods worth thousands of dollars are damaged.

In April, Cabinet announced plans to construct a 33km road to serve as an alternativ­e route in and out of Mutare.

The proposed partnershi­p between the Government and Leengate Private Limited for the Mutare by-pass road will see the constructi­on of a 26km road by Leengate Private Limited to skirt the Christmas Pass road to Forbes Border Post, relieving congestion on the old road which has become unsafe owing to inadequate carrying capacity and its deteriorat­ing state.

Over the weekend, Transport and Infrastruc­tural Developmen­t Minister Felix Mhona, his deputy Joshua Sacco and Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Misheck Mugadza, among other senior Government officials toured the bypass route and the border post.

Speaking in an interview, Minister Mhona said they had to move with speed following complaints that they were a lot of accidents along Christmas Pass, especially haulage trucks.

“We witnessed that as the Second Republic, we then need to rehabilita­te and also try to divert trucks from going through Christmas Pass and this is what we are doing. And we have been doing this behind the scenes, where we are going to by-pass just before the tollgate into Mutare where we are going to construct a 33km road up to Forbes Border Post and you will see that it’s going to be a widened road to mirror what we are also doing along Harare-Beitbridge Road, which is 12,5metres in terms of span. And we are saying at the end of the day, we also have tolling along that road.

“But the most important thing is the amount of business that has resulted because of the Second Republic. You have heard from Zimra officials that they are clearing close to 450 trucks which signifies that Zimbabwe is open for business is bearing fruits and we also need to be proactive as a ministry so that we have infrastruc­ture that enhances and buttresses this kind of business.

“And we are here to say this border post can no longer coping in terms of managing the volumes that we are witnessing. So we are going to move slightly in the city where we are going to rehabilita­te and have a bigger border post and this has already been sanctioned by cabinet to say let’s revamp and rehabilita­te a new border post under Forbes Border Consortium.

“And you will see what we have at Beitbridge Border Post is exactly what is going to happen here and in terms of introducin­g the dry ports as well. And above all we are also going to rehabilita­te the feeder roads in the great City of Mutare,” he said.

Minister Mhona confirmed that they had finished conducting the feasibilit­y study and completed the designs for the by-pass.

“In terms of Forbes Border Post, we are only finalising on the procuremen­t of additional land but we are almost done meaning that we are on the implementa­tion stage, because I had to take the projects to Cabinet where we got the approval and now we were doing the feasibilit­y studies over some months ago and we are ready to implement.

“So what we are talking about today is not something that we are promising the nation but we are saying we are going to implement and you will see us just in a few weeks, months, gravitatin­g towards here and you will see our feasibilit­y in terms of engineers visiting this place quite often,” he said.

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