From George Maponga in Masvingo
Zimbabwe will soon sign contractual agreements with two international road construction firms that won the multimillion- dollar bid to rehabilitate and dualise the Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu highways. The actual construction work is expected to start at the beginning of next year.The deal will also entail the upgrading of Harare Drive into a ring road. Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said Government would sign contractual agreements with China Harnour Engineering, a Chinese firm; and Geiger International of Australia in the second week of next month. This will set the stage for the ground-breaking ceremony to officially mark the start of the dualisation work. The cost of the project is yet to be established, but it will be financed through the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) and also through a loan from China’s Eximbank.
In an interview last week, Dr Gumbo said the actual construction work on the highway was expected to start in earnest in January next year. He said the project would take two and half years to complete.
“We will be signing the contractual agreement with the two companies that won the bid to rehabilitate and dualise the Beitbridge-Harare and the Harare-Chirundu highways in the second week of November and soon after we expect to do the ground breaking ceremony soon after that,’’ he said.
“Included in the deal will be the upgrading of Harare Road into a ring road and it is our hope that after we have signed the contractual agreements with the two firms and conducted the ground-breaking ceremony, they (two firms) will then start moving their construction equipment into the country so that we can safely say the actual construction will start in January next year,’’ he added.
Dr Gumbo said Government wanted to carry out due diligence first before rushing into appending signatures on the contractual agreements with the Chinese and Australian firms to control costs.
“We want to first look into the nitty-gritties of the deals with the two firms because one of the contractors is bringing their own funds while part of the project will be financed through a China Eximbank loan,’’ he said.
Dr Gumbo revealed that 4,2km of the highway from Beitbridge Border Post had already been dualised by a consortium of Zimbabwean companies that won the contract during the Zimbabwe dollar era.
“We want to establish the proper cost of the rehabilitation and dualisation project, I must point out that whatever figures being said to be the cost are just estimates and we do not know where they are coming from, the total cost of dualising the Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu highways has not yet been determined,’’ he said.
Dr Gumbo said the entire rehabilitation and dualisation project was divided into eight segments. He said the segmentation would make the project faster to finish.
“The road will be divided into eight segments of about 100km each, with the first segment being from Beitbridge to Mwenezi followed by Mwenezi to Tokwe and then Tokwe to Chirumhanzu (Chaka), Chirumhanzu to Munyati and then Munyati to Harare,’’ said Dr Gumbo.