The completed phase of the US$21 million Makuti-Chirundu road rehabilitation is expected to be commissioned by President Mnangagwa tomorrow, just over 18 months after he officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony.
The work included widening of the road down the steep Zambezi Escarpment, smoothening of sharp curves and construction of climbing lanes at Marongora.
The road is part of the major national highway from Beitbridge to Chirundu, a major regional route. Government has several construction firms upgrading sections of this highway along its length in a major national project.
Complete with road markings, signs, cat eyes and barricades, the major upgrade of the stretch is expected to reduce the number of accidents due to failure to negotiate steep descents, ascents and sharp curves.
It covers the stretch from Marongora to Hells Gate, the Mana Pools turn-off.
President Mnangagwa officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony on August 26 in 2019 highlighting that the project was part of Government’s thrust to develop robust and modern infrastructure.
It dovetailed with the development blueprint adopted by Government which would see at least five major road projects being supported every year in each province.
“The implementation of this project is indeed of strategic importance as it will enable the smooth and unimpeded flow of traffic, people and goods along the North-South Corridor.
“I am informed that this project will cover the most treacherous terrain leading to Mana Pools National Park turn-off and will be implemented in the 18 months up to December 2020,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said he was optimistic the project would be completed ahead of schedule owing to the hard-working nature of Japanese engineers.
The project was affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, but was finished within reasonable time.
With the continent moving towards regional convergence through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), SADC, Comesa and the East African community member states, upgrading of the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway would enhance regional, continental trade and integration.
To further ensure that the project fell within expected timelines, Government granted it national project status.
The scope of works included construction of climbing lanes which will ensure faster moving vehicles are able to pass heavy trucks along with construction of ancillary road structures such as safety barriers, road markings, increased curve radius for easier navigation.
The contractor, Dai Nippon Construction, working with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, undertook the project and remains on site to conduct inspections and repairs, if need arises, for the next year.
Mashonaland West Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Josphat Jaji said preparations for the event were at an advanced stage with relevant stakeholders meeting yesterday.