Beit­bridge Road takes phased ap­proach

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Levi Mukarati

UP­GRAD­ING of the $1 bil­lion Beit­bridge-Harare-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 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.

Min­is­ter Joel Big­gie Ma­tiza (cen­tre) with road en­gi­neers work­ing on the Beatrice sec­tion of the Beit­bridge-Harare-Chirundu High­way re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion

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