Major highway project step closer to reality

Source: Major highway project step closer to reality | The Sunday Mail August 14, 2016

Debra Matabvu and Africa Moyo
Government will this week sign a memorandum of understanding with two of the companies awarded tenders to construct the 900km Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway. The Sunday Mail understands representatives of Geiger Pvt Ltd of Austria and China Harbour Engineering Company have been in Zimbabwe since August 4, 2016 to finalise modalities. Government is also negotiating with them to ring-fence a portion of the project for local companies.

The highway has been in use for over 55 years against a 20-year lifespan.

An official in the Transport and Infrastructure Development Ministry, who preferred anonymity, said the MoU was just the first step.

“Government is set to sign an MoU with the contractors (this week) over the dualisation of that road. They have been in the country since early August, and have been meeting engineers in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.

“We say work is set to begin soon. We are at very advanced stage and are now engaging those who awarded the tender. In addition, we are negotiating for the ring-fencing of a portion of the project that will then be awarded to local construction companies to work on.”

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development Cde Dexter Nduna said Transport Minister Dr Joram Gumbo would appear before the panel tomorrow to respond to inquiries on the project.

Cde Nduna said, “We have called the minister to come to Parliament so that we find out when construction of the road would start. Unfortunately, I can’t say some of the issues we will discuss. It would be unprofessional for Minister Gumbo to learn of the questions he is going to be asked through the Press.”

It is, however, understood that the committee wants to establish if Zimbabwean companies will be sub-contracted and also gather how a local firm already got to work on 4km of the road.

A feasibility study of the project is also likely to be discussed.

Recently, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe flighted an advertisement calling for bids to conduct the study. Prior feasibility checks completed in June 2013 established that US$1,3 billion was required to rehabilitate and dualise the Beitbridge-Harare stretch.

An additional US$883 million, according to a 2011 study, was required to link Harare and Chirundu.

A fortnight ago, Dr Gumbo told The Sunday Mail he was optimistic the study would not derail the project, and that his ministry was working closely with the IDBZ, the Attorney-General’s Office, the Finance and Economic Development Ministry and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

“There is no way the feasibility may recommend stopping the project on account of it not being feasible.

‘‘You may not have understood them (IDBZ); there is no problem with the feasibility study. The feasibility study of the road was done long back.

‘‘Don’t forget that a company called Zimbabwe Highways was awarded this road (project) during the time when the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare Highway started and there was a dispute and it did not go ahead.

“Now, we have come up with new bidders because Zim Highways withdrew their legal case from the High Court. So, there is nothing new with this road. What is new is the contractor and a new financier; so it’s a question of appreciation of what was there.”

Zim Highways, a consortium of 14 companies including Murray & Roberts, Costain Africa, Kuchi Building Construction, Tarcon, Bitcon, Joina Development Company and Southland Engineers, was awarded the contract in 2003.


  • comment-avatar
    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    So the feasibility study can’t find that the project is not feasible, because the feasibility has already been established and is beyond doubt. So what is the prrpose of the feasibility study?

    55 years in use, less a 20 year life span, comes down to 35 years, which is a year after ZANU PF got into power. Can they explain why the road wasn’t upgraded around 1981? Stupidity? Incompetence? Or that word missing from African languages “maintenance”?

    • comment-avatar
      Fallenz 6 years ago

      Excellent question… “why the feasibility study”. Seems it’s just part of the pretend-work that those in pretend-government do… pretend the funds are available, pretend government has a plan, pretend they know what they’re doing, pretend they care, pretend reality doesn’t exist.

      They can’t even maintain the roads that exist… so, this nonsense about dualisation is nothing more than an available smokescreen to help disguise ZANY-PF inability to govern.

      So, Comrade Gumbo, let’s take a ride on some of the roads, and give you a taste of teeth-jarring reality… then perhaps you’ll make some realistic pronouncements… like rebuilding the highway north of Birchenough Bridge, as just one of many examples. That little work on the Tsholotsho road is a minor project, and shoveling dirt into potholes is a joke… real work requires real money, and it’s all in private, off-shore accounts, as you well know. So, drop the pretense, admit zanupf is a failure, move over and let people who know what they’re doing work for the people and begin rebuilding the nation.

      • comment-avatar
        Joe Cool 6 years ago

        Please! Don’t confuse the Minister with this word ‘dualisation’! He thinks the road from Plumtree to Mutare is already ‘dualised’ – meaning two vehicles can pass each other without a head-on collision, as we would have had in the good old ‘strip’ days, if the drivers didn’t have the intelligence to compromise on entitlement to the road.

        • comment-avatar
          Fallenz 6 years ago

          …as happened often when trucks were hauling zanupf minion to HRE for “the March” back in May. Hogged the stripe, and others had to give way to zanupf “entitlement” even then.

  • comment-avatar
    Gwelutshena 6 years ago

    One wonders if ever the Bulawayo-Nkayi, Bulawayo-Tsholotsho or even the road to our late President J.M.N.Nkomo’s homestead will ever be fixed.

  • comment-avatar
    dhonato matibili 6 years ago

    The usual zimpapers-zanu jokes! Everything is in future tense. Govt to open power generation plant, govt to complete tokwe mukosi, govt to finish harare-chitungwiza rail, govt to complete mat zambezi water pjct…hapana kana panombonzi govt yazopedza chakati. Forever in the unaeeable future. Todotenda vana Smith otherwise tingadai takasara rough!