Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Government is expected to sign a memorandum of understating with a new contractor soon to commence dualisation of the 900km Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu Highway, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Dr Joram Gumbo, said yesterday.
He said they had since been given blessings by President Mugabe to implement the project as a matter of urgency.
“Negotiations with the funders and the contractor are at the concluding stages and we hope to sign a memorandum of understanding soon. The State Procurement Board has also given us the green-light to award the tender to the identified contractor, which we will announce soon,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the project would be implemented over five years.
He said the dualisation of the roads, which has claimed a number of lives over the years due to their poor state, was now a reality.
“As you are aware, the legal wrangle between Zimbabwe Highways, which had won the tender to work on the road, is over and has opened room for us to engage another contractor.
“We will also sub-contract many of the local companies for other jobs and source material locally, except for those items which are not available in the country.
“Following my appointment, the President emphasised that we need to attend to the highway which links the country to the rest of Sadc in terms of international trade,” said Dr Gumbo.
The minister said the dualisation of the highway would be divided into five segments.
He said over 300 people living along the highway would be engaged for various jobs.
Dr Gumbo said work on the roads had been delayed by the legal wrangle between Zimbabwe Highways and Government over contractual issues.
“They (Zimbabwe Highways) agreed to withdraw the court case after negotiations and guarantees that we will sub-contract local contractors in implementing the project,” he said.
Zimbabwe Highways Consortium is made up of 14 construction firms including Murray & Roberts, Costain Africa, Kuchi Building Construction, Tarcon, Bitcon, Joina Development Company and Southland Engineers who were awarded the tender for the dualisation of the highway in 2003.
The project never took off as per the agreed terms and timeframes forcing the Government to withdraw the tender in 2013.
“You will also note that South Africa, Botswana and Zambia are planning to construct another road along the Kazungula route.
“This means that as Zimbabwe we stand to lose out on international trade if we don’t attend to the dualisation of this road as a matter of urgency,” he said.
The minister said they were also looking at dualisation of the Beitbridge –Victoria Falls and the Harare Nyamapanda roads in the near future.
The Herald is reliably informed that the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara), which is the collecting agent for Government at Beitbridge border post, is netting an average of $1,2 million per month.
The money is for toll fees for vehicles accessing the country through Beitbridge Border Post.
Further, Zinara is collecting about $2 million per day from imports at Beitbridge where an average of 14 000 to 15 000 haulage trucks pass every month.