Beitbridge-Harare Road dualisation begins

Pre-commencement works on the $1 billion Beitbridge-Harare Highway dualisation project have begun while actual construction of the road is expected to start within a month, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo has said.

There are reports that the company contracted to dualise the highway, Geiger International of Austria, has agreed terms with a local financial institution for the handling of its funds.

The Austrian company was contracted by Government to carry out the project under a 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) model at a cost of $998 million.

Dr Gumbo, yesterday, said the contractor was busy with pre-commencement works following a ground-breaking ceremony for the project by President Mugabe two weeks ago.

“They are busy on the project, setting up camping areas which will house workers as well as their equipment,” he said.

“The road will be in segments, so there will be sub-camps with ablution facilities and other relation facilities along the route and this is what is being set up. The main camp has already been set up and it is at the 40-kilometre peg along the Harare-Chivhu road,” he told The Herald. “Another camp has also been set up where we launched the programme (Chaka Business Centre in Chirumanzu). All in all, they should have about six camps which will house the equipment. From our projections, work will be in full swing in about three to four weeks as there are no setbacks.”

The project, a boon to the Zim-Asset infrastructure and utilities cluster, is expected to be a game changer in the country’s economic development.

Thousands of jobs will be created with skilled and non-skilled personnel being hired while there would be business opportunities for local firms and citizens.

Government has negotiated that 40 percent of the dualisation project benefits locals as part of empowering indigenous people.

Dr Gumbo said Government was happy with the progress on the project.

“The contractor is also talking with locals who have equipment such that they hire out that equipment,” he said.

“Moving equipment into the country through shipping takes long hence the decision to take that route. One billion dollars is not a joke by any standards, so they were working on how their funds will be moved. They have agreed terms with a local financial institution (name supplied) with which they will transact as they do their work. These issues take time, but they have done that within a short period, setting the stage for actual construction.”

The dualisation of the highway is expected to reduce carnage and increase the flow of goods and tourists in and outside the country.

Preliminary indications are that it will take three years to complete the dualisation.

The project will be done in phases and the first phase includes the Beitbridge-Harare Highway.

The second phase, which is the Harare-Chirundu stretch — will then follow.

Felex Share Senior Reporter

Calls for Government to expedite the dualisation project got louder recently after 30 people perished at Nyamatikiti River Bridge near Chaka when a Proliner bus bound for South Africa was side-swiped by a haulage truck going in the opposite direction.

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