Roadport ownership wrangle takes new twist

Source: Roadport ownership wrangle takes new twist | The Herald

Roadport ownership wrangle takes new twist
Mr Jefta Mugweni

Municipal Reporter

An ownership wrangle pitting Harare City Council and operators of the city’s major cross border bus terminus, Roadport, has taken a new twist amid allegations that there is no build-operate-transfer deal signed by the two parties.

Last month, council resolved to shut down Roadport alleging that operator Mr Jefta Mugweni was refusing to surrender the property following the expiry of a 25-year BOT arrangement.

However, in an extract of a chapter titled; ‘Roadport’ from Mr Mugweni’s book ‘My Pact with God’, he disputes having entered into an BOT with council, but the two settled for a private-public-partnership.

“The City of Harare team and I discussed so many models from PPP, BOT and Build Own Operate and Transfer. We settled on PPP.

“Council approved the Roadport project with the following structure: Council contributes the one-and-a-half hectare stand, Zimre contributes all the buildings and Roadport owns the business 100 percent,” Mr Mugweni said in the book.

 Mr Mugweni said on the agreed structure, Zimre-Roadport was going to lease the land from City of Harare on the following basis, a 25-year tenure which is renewable while having first right of refusal to renew the lease.

Also according to the book, in the event of total disagreement City of Harare was set to reimburse Zimre and Roadport for fixed and movable assets including the business.

In the book, land owned by the City of Harare is valued at US$300 000, buildings owned by Zimre US$6 million and the Roadport business using a price to earnings ration is valued at US$6 million.

Acting Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Innocent Ruwende yesterday said commenting on the issue would be sub judice. 

“What I can confirm is that we took Roadport to court following the expiry of its BOT,” he said. 

The Roadport deal was signed on September 25, 1995 with actual construction having started in 1997 by a team comprising the late national hero Cde Biggie Matiza who was the architect.

According to Mr Mugweni’s book Roadport employs 300 people directly and thousands indirectly, while at peak 2 000 passengers pass through it daily, travelling to or coming from South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Botswana.

Over 70 coach operators use Roadport each day and in addition there are businesses including Chicken Inn, Hand2Hand bureau de Change, Ecocash, ZRP and others operating from there.

Council’s capacity to operate the terminus has been questioned as most of its terminuses are in a poor state following years of neglect, although the local authority has been collecting revenue from the use of the facilities.

Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba recently said the council should not rush to repossess Roadport from the company currently running the facility.

“It is currently being run in a very professional manner. If council believes that they have the capacity to run Roadport, they should finish the incomplete bus terminuses at Rhodesville, the Colcom Holding Bay and the National Sports Stadium and put in place a similar or better system than Roadport.

“Allowing the current administrator to run it gives the City of Harare the opportunity to focus on other key infrastructure development projects. Bringing in private partners helps the ratepayers in the long run,” he said.