Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
GOVERNMENT yesterday signed a Concession Agreement and Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) framework with Geiger International, paving way for the start of the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge highway in line with targets set in the Zim-Asset blueprint.Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo signed on behalf of the Government, while Mr Erik Geiger stood in for Geiger International.
The project is valued at US$984 184 592, 68 and the signing of the two agreements marks the beginning of practical work on the road which should be in full swing by March next year.
Minister Gumbo said the costing of the project was fair and that it was based on a feasibility study done by Stuart Scott International through an international tender funded by the Development Bank of South Africa, which pegged it at between US$900 million and US$1,2 billion.
Minister Gumbo told stakeholders who attended the signing ceremony in Harare that the project would be implemented under a Build Operate and Transfer arrangement running for 25 years.
“The project will be implemented at a cost of US$984 184 592, 68 and construction of the road will be undertaken over a three-year period,” said Minister Gumbo.
“The scope of the work covered by this cost includes full dualisation of the road, including the widening and rehabilitation of the existing road. Also included is the cost of the construction of 37 new two-lane bridges and eight tollgates,” he said.
“As will be appreciated, we are now in the rainy season, and we thank God for the rains, but it also means that road construction can only begin in earnest around March 2017.”
Following the signing of the EPC and the concession agreement, Minister Gumbo said preliminary works would include mobilisation of materials and engagement of local sub-contractors and finalisation of road mapping.
He said 40 percent of the value of the project would be sub-contracted to local companies.
Minister Gumbo said the engagement of local sub-contractors would be done in a transparent manner by Geiger International.
“Allow me to touch on the Harare-Chirundu Road which is also part of this corridor. The EPC contract has now been approved by Government and we expect a Chinese delegation from CHEC to fly into the country before the end of the year for the signing ceremony of that portion of the road,” said Minister Gumbo.
“Thereafter, full negotiations will be opened with the financing partner in China and the loan agreement should be concluded by mid year 2017.”
The portion of the project, Minikster Gumbo said, would be implemented under a loan facility and that necessitated separation of the two contracts.
He said Government’s focus was now on the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and the Harare-Nyamapanda highways.
Minister Gumbo said the roads would open the north-south corridor and the trade route with Mozambique and Malawi.
He said given Zimbabwe’s strategic location as a potential transport hub in the Sadc region, Government’s strategy was to open the major regional trading corridors.
Mr Geiger expressed his company’s readiness to start the project.
“We understand first of all the importance of this project,” he said.
“This project is one of the most important projects not only for Zimbabwe but also for the surrounding countries. We believe that with our cooperation with the ministry and with the implementation of the project, we will be able to help to create first of all thousands of jobs in the country,” said Mr Geiger.
“We believe that the time is ripe now to start the project. We have done all our preparation in the background. We have been working with the ministry for a long time in order to finalise the project and the contract,” he said.
“Everything has been signed and we are looking forward to the start of the project which will happen shortly. We are making all the planning to start as soon as possible. This project is of national importance and for our company it is a very high profile project.”
The signing of the two agreements was witnessed by Finance Minister Patrcik Chinamasa, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, Engineer Michael Madanha (Deputy Minister Transport and Infrastructural Development) and officials from the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe, among others.