President Mnangagwa has said the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road to meet Sadc road infrastructure standards with some sections having been dualised, will be completed by 2022.
Government, he said, has prioritised road rehabilitation as a key enabler to transform Zimbabwe to an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
He said he was proud to note that five companies involved in the rehabilitation of the road were all local companies using local resources and experts, with funds also being sourced locally.
The highway is the busiest in the country and is part of the North-South Corridor linking the country to Sadc, Comesa and East African states.
The North-South Corridor Road project is defined as a multi-modal trans-continental inter-connector, ultimately connecting Cape Town in the south and Cairo in the north.
Its rehabilitation will stimulate development for the country and the region and is expected to carry over 50 000 million vehicles in the next 20 years.
Austrian contractor Geiger International was in 2016 awarded the US$1,9 billion tender for the construction of the road under the Build-Operate-Transfer model.
The company then failed to implement the project before the New Dispensation decided to go local.
President Mnangagwa said his administration decided to cancel Geiger’s contract after the company failed to produce proof of funding as well as evidence of existing roads projects undertaken elsewhere in the world.
Addressing members of the press just outside Chivhu town in Mashonaland East province after an assessment of a 20km section of the road that has been re-opened to traffic following its successful rehabilitation, President Mnangagwa said his Government decided to go local following indications that Geiger International was failing to undertake the project.
He said even after waiting patiently for two months for Geiger International to provide proof of funding and works done, the company failed to do so forcing Government to cancel the tender.
“This same road, first they went for a tender and the company from Austria, Geiger, won the tender, for US$1,9 billion to do this road. Then we said before we allow you to begin the work, can you show proof of funds. So, they made so many letters trying to say funds are that way, funds are this way, funds are that way, this is now the New Dispensation and we said OK, can you give us where you constructed 50km of tarmac anywhere in the world. We waited for two months and there was no proof. So, we cancelled them out,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said they decided to engage local companies which he said were showing that they are capable of completing the project.
The President said by 2022 the project will be completed.
“And we decided that we use our own local companies, our own money, we raise the funds in the country, use local expertise, local workers, local engineers, everything is local and by 2022 the entire road from Harare to Beitbridge will be like this (rehabilitated) with certain sections dualised. And in the second phase we want the entire stretch dualised.
“This is what we mean, we need to have infrastructure, our road network to be able to talk to meet the regional road standards and we are on course now,” said President Mnangagwa.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said the work on the road involves widening the existing lanes to meet current standards, adding that the contractors will have to remove the existing asphalt layers, improve the base layers and then pave new asphalt on top.
The second phase of the project will involve dualising the route. The five contractors are all carrying out works over 20km sections of the route and should their construction activity meet necessary standards, they will be awarded further packages for stretches up to 100km in length.
“This stretch of the road is being constructed by Fossil Construction which is Chivhu to Mvuma and they are on schedule. They are supposed to complete the first 20km by the end of August and the other 20km by December 31,” he said.
Minister Matiza said the five firms involved in the project are Bitumen World, Fossil Contractors, Exodus Company, Masimba Construction and Tensor Systems.
He said all the contractors had all started working on their part of the road meaning that by the end of the year 200km would have been completed.
“The contractors, all local after beating this rigorous progress can compete regionally and internationally. We have the expertise in the country,” he said.
Minister Matiza said by the time the construction of the road reaches Chirundu, the road network will be meeting Sadc standards.
“The roads will meet the same standard and quality as those in our neighbouring countries and our aim is to make sure that they are much better and safe and are economic enablers,” he said.
Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Minister Apollonia Munzverengi commended President Mnangagwa’s Government for its commitment to rehabilitate the road which she said had become a death trap. chronicle