Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
Work should start soon on converting the major choke point of the Mbudzi roundabout in southern Harare into a multilevel interchange, a flyover, with the Government now finalising the financial arrangements to pay for the required civil works as the Second Republic continues to upgrade infrastructure to cope with modern demands.
But the infrastructural thrust needs to be paid for hence the need to link a revenue source to the expenditure under the discipline that has finally tamed exchange rates and inflation and so in an even larger project two financial institutions have now completed drawing up another financing model for the remaining phase of the rehabilitation of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway, which includes the Mbudzi interchange.
Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Development, Engineer Tedious Chinyanga said in an interview that the Mbudzi roundabout needed to be converted into an interchange where traffic in different directions flows on different levels, allowing traffic on at least one of the routes passing through the intersection to do so without interruption.
This requires a fair amount of expensive civil engineering and the financial arrangements with a banking institution should be completed this month.
For the whole of the last phase of the highway, the ministry had engaged Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and Zimre Holdings in their quest to raise funding which would come as a bond.
Mbudzi roundabout is at the intersection of Simon Mazorodze Road, Chitungwiza Road and High Glen Road and these are the feeder roads from western Chitungwiza and a swathe of old and new suburbs into the city centre as well as national and regional traffic on the Harare-Masvingo route.
Besides the heavy traffic through the roundabout, there is the extra loading at both morning and evening peak hours that sees much of this traffic having to go two thirds of the way around the roundabout.
He said Government was working on both the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Masvingo Harare highway and Mbudzi roundabout.
“In terms of Mbudzi roundabout we are discussing with a financial institution which has expressed interest in putting forward a loan or funding to Treasury in order to quicken up the process of constructing that interchange because it would be bad planning on our part if we complete the road without having put up the interchange.
“As you might have experienced, it would take two to three hours for someone to just cross the roundabout currently. We want to ensure that as we complete the road the interchange comes on stream,” said Eng Chinyanga.
Regarding the highway, Eng Chinyanga said the ministry had engaged Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and Zimre Holdings in their quest to raise funding which would come as a bond.
“We have IDBZ and Zimre Holdings leading the process. They made a presentation to Treasury. As Ministry of Transport, we are happy with the progress but there are a few things which they have to deal with Treasury for final approval and concurrence but the pace we are moving at is good.
“I will hasten to say they have previously built the model based on a revenue stream, that was then taken over in order to address issues associated with Covid19.
“So IDBZ and Zimre had to go back to try and rebuild that model again and I think they have done so fantastically and Treasury is looking at the presentation,” said Eng Chinyanga.
Government had stepped up road rehabilitation which in the past had been hampered by hyperinflation and implored citizens to play a leading role in road preservation.
“We had hyperinflation prices changing hourly, you cannot maintain or build infrastructure on the basis of moving targets like prices.
“The infrastructure that we are building, and maintaining belong to the people. What we have noted is that our people tend to take it as Government infrastructure. For instance, in urban areas we have urban agriculture, it is good for household food security, but when it is practised close to roads even in drainage structures of the road, it causes siltation, it closes the drains, it silts concrete drainage structures which causes weakness in road structure and therefore manifestation of potholes,” said Eng Chinyanga.
Turning to the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Eng Chinyanga said there was nothing irregular in Government’s decision revoking a US$400 million deal with Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group-Transnet after some contractual disagreements.
“We had contractual issues and problems, which were brought to our partners. At that point in time we agreed that we had to part ways. We have not burned bridges with any international financiers. Contract termination or exit happens everyday. People even insert exit clauses for the reason that as people you might come into dispute or misunderstanding. But we were agreeable that the best way was to part way so that we are given time to restrategise.
“Right now we are back on the market, we should be advertising for potential partners to come forward for recapitalisation of NRZ, because we believe NRZ has a very high potential of attracting investors once we structure the process properly,” he said.