Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter—
THE dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu highways is expected to create over 300 000 jobs, contributing significantly to Government’s efforts of creating two million jobs in line with the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.President Mugabe on Thursday set the ball rolling when he launched the initial phase of the project, the $984 million Beitbridge-Harare Highway at Chaka Business Centre in Chirumhanzu.
Government said the 300 000 jobs would be achieved through employing a raft of measures, including using local and international experts to supervise and inspect dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway for it to meet regional and international standards.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Mr Davison Norupiri, concurred that an estimated 300 000 jobs would be created.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries’ (CZI) Mr Busisa Moyo, could not give an exact figure, but confirmed that the project was massive and would see many people getting employment opportunities.
In an interview yesterday, Dr Gumbo said skilled and non-skilled people were going to benefit from the Beitbridge-Chirundu project.
“Looking at the road, we estimate that not less than 300 000 people will benefit,” he said. “Some companies may, however, bring their own workers.”
“We negotiated that 40 percent of the value of the road will go to the local companies who will be contracted. This is very significant in terms of employment creation even for the general work during construction,” Dr Gumbo said.
Local companies to be contracted, he said, would be subjected to the same conditions, and quality would not be compromised.
Mr Norupiri said the project was going to create a lot of jobs directly and indirectly.
“The project is going to have a huge impact on the downstream as far as employment creation is concerned,” he said. “The level of employment is going to grow, looking at the downstream and upstream activities.”
Mr Moyo said $984 million was a lot of money in the construction of the road and there were going to be a lot of opportunities created in different ways, including clearing and moving construction materials.
“There will be significant job creation,” he said.
Officially commissioning the Beitbridge-Harare Highway at Chaka Growth Point in Chirumhanzu, President Mugabe called for high quality delivery.
The road, which is an important element of Zim-Asset cluster of infrastructure and utilities, is strategic not only to Zimbabwe, but the whole of Sadc region, hence the need to be perfectly compacted as it will carry some of the heaviest haulage trucks.
Said President Mugabe: “The road, therefore, needs to meet international stands in order to maintain the traffic volumes on this busiest corridor in the region.”
Dr Gumbo said every stage of construction would be tightly monitored.
His assurance comes on the backdrop of poor delivery of projects by companies that saw some roads developing potholes, barely six months after construction.
Dr Gumbo said the ministry was going to work hard to ensure the road, which was expected to last for 20 to 25 years, was constructed to satisfaction and also meets value for money.
He said the contracted company, Geiger International, was internationally acclaimed.
“We will also have a team of engineers to supervise the quality of the road at every stage of development,” he said.
“The road should meet international standards and get the value for our money.
“A team from the Ministry will inspect and supervise together with international engineers step by step. We are emphasising on the value for the money so that the end product should satisfy us.”
Dr Gumbo said there was an agreement with Geiger International that the firm would maintain the road for a certain period before handing it over to Government.
“We have agreed that they will maintain the road for an agreed period, so the road will remain up to standard and satisfy the owners of the project,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said some of the roads were now in bad state due to low maintenance, with some being more than 60 years.
This year, most roads were damaged by heavy rains and this resulted in the increase of potholes, even on highways.
Dr Gumbo said roads should be maintained and refurbished periodically to keep them in shape and increase their lifespan.
He said the impact of the new-look Harare-Beitbridge Highway would not only bring advantages to locals, but the region as a whole.
“The road is not only important to Zimbabwe, but to Southern Africa as a whole,” said Dr Gumbo.
“Most countries cannot access ports without passing through Zimbabwe. The road is significant not only for economic reasons, but also benefit the society socially.
He said the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway would also see a decline in road accidents.
Dr Gumbo said the timing of the dualisation was appropriate, considering that the country was also moving with times.
“We used to have gravel roads and those were the days, we later had narrow tarred roads and now due to the increase in the volume of traffic, we are dualising,” he said.
“We have to widen the roads because of the increase of the volume of traffic.”
Government has successfully resurfaced over 800 kilometres of road from Plumtree to Mutare at a cost of over $206 million.