Zinara mulls border upgrades

via Zinara mulls border upgrades – DailyNews Live 22 June 2015 by John Kachembere

HARARE – The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) has dangled the idea of a corridor master development plan (CMDP) towards the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu road, which emphasises the upgrading of key constituent elements such as the southern border post.

This comes as the roads manager has complained that a raft of taxes on its $206 million Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) loan have impaired some of its programmes and a key committee on the Joint Ventures Bill (JVB) has called on joint efforts in the development of the major highway.

“Policy direction is that we should pursue full dualisation of this road (Beitbridge) and the requirement of which is in excess of $2 billion. This quantum of financing is not easy to secure and with the problem exacerbated by demands for a return on investment within the shortest possible time,” Zinara board chairman Albert Mugabe told parliament this week, adding his organisation was, however, still hamstrung by the court case over that project.

“The key, therefore, to enhance the project’s attractiveness is to look at the macro-context and incorporate elements (that can) improve financial viability. This means we cannot just look at the artery from Beitbridge–Harare–Chirundu as a road, but rather an economic corridor, whose principal element is the road,” he said.

“The first step then is to develop a CMDP, which will identify constituent elements that can augment and support the road’s viability. For example, Beitbridge border post must be upgraded and expanded, and Zinara recognises this entry point – through our Act to build and expand tolling points as well as ancillary infrastructure – as a tolling,” Mugabe added.

According to the Zinara chairman, such elements include roadside service providers – notably truck-inns – and settlements, while places like Masvingo and the Beitbridge border town itself can be transformed into major participatory engines for that economic corridor.

In his thinking, Mugabe feels places like the southern border town can be used to tap the goods normally found in Musina and other transitory communities around Zimbabwe’s borders for availability in places like Beitbridge, and which will bring increased taxes through enhanced economic or trade activities.

“This ideology brings to the fore (the) otherwise hidden value of the road and thereby enhancing contributions to the… viability of the project,” he said, adding they were currently “compiling information around the CMDP”.

The debate around Zinara’s possible takeover of the Beitbridge border post also comes amid incessant complaints about unnecessary bottlenecks at the country’s entry points, which can cause cargo delays of up to two weeks and a major cost driver for consumer goods.

Zinara as a purveyor of logistics must ensure efficiency. This means attending to the long overdue requirement of infrastructural upgrade at the ports of entry while concurrently addressing the disrepair of the arteries that lead to these ports.

Under the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)-Zinara dispute, the latter was levied an accumulative $40 million in value added and non-resident tax.

According to acting chief executive Moses Juma, the Harare-based organisation has another outstanding tab of $46 million – which translates to a staggering 22,4 percent of the project value.

“If l add the $38,9 million we have already paid and the current exposure, it means Zimra will be collecting 41,2 percent of the loan amount (and) this has had a negative effect on our obligations,” he told parliament’s portfolio committee on transport this week, adding Zinara has had to borrow more costly funds to finance its operations, including the completion of its 820 kilometre-long Mutare-Plumtree highway.

The road has nine world class toll plazas, which are meant to recoup money used for its construction and rehabilitation.

Even, though, the roads administrator has met its three-year $200 million revenue target, it is still far short of the $5 billion kitty needed for its national road rehabilitation programme.

“With the current financial challenges… we cannot afford to fund the rehabilitation of infrastructure in the country such as the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway,” Marcos Nyaruwanda, a Finance ministry public investment programme deputy director, told a Masvingo public meeting on the JVB recently.

“Unless we lure private sector investors… the country is not in a position to finance the dualisation of the road, which has the highest carnage due to its business and if the bill is successful then it will be easy for companies to be lured by return on profits,” he added.

For instance, government requires up to $1 million to do a kilometre of the major road, Nyaruwanda said.

In receiving a Malawian delegation – out to study Zinara’s tolling arrangements and road repair works – this week, Transport minister Obert Mpofu emphasised the need for self-funding in the repair of Africa’s roads, hence Zimbabwe is mulling the idea of increasing urban tolls.

While Zinara projected earnings of $55 million-plus from vehicle licencing and related services alone, Mugabe also said this was not even enough to repaid Harare’s roads and let alone the national network of 82 000 killiometres-plus.

“To do part of Harare’s road network rehabilitation, we require $400 million. Harare alone cannot lay full claim of the $55 million we are budgeting for,” he said.

With its funding streams listed as vehicle licensing, fuel levy, presumptive tax and abnormal load fees, road access and transit fees, Zinara partly meets cash targets through the 26 cash collection points nationwide under the Intertoll, and ZimToll arrangements.

Meanwhile, Zinara yesterday launched a pre-paid tolling card and in addition to hosting a Malawian delegation to learn about its tolling operations this week.


  • comment-avatar
    R Judd 7 years ago

    2 billion! How much of this will be going directly into the pockets of the friends of ZINARA?