Coronavirus stalls progress at New Parly building
Blessings Chidakwa and Ivan Zhakata
Coronavirus (covid-19), whose effects are being felt across the world, has impacted on projects in Zimbabwe, with construction of the New Parliament building in Mt Hampden slowed after 100 technocrats failed to return from China.
The epidemic has also delayed the delivery of essential equipment for the project from the Asian country.
The absence of the technocrats and equipment is affecting work at the mega project, where construction of the super structure is now complete and focus is shifting to the interior.
The 100 technocrats, among them project engineers, had gone back home for their annual leave.
Some of the equipment that is stuck in China comprise of transformers, furniture, air conditioners and distribution boxes.
The project is being carried out by the Shanghai Construction Group of China under a government to government agreement.
Completion of the six storey circular building is expected to solve issues of space affecting the current Parliament Building, which has 270 legislators against a capacity of 120.
The new building has capacity to hold 600 people.
At the moment, legislators in the National Assembly are failing to follow proceedings due to unavailability of enough space in the Chamber.
The Herald news crew on Friday visited the site housing the new building designed to accommodate all members of the National Assembly and Senate members in comfort and observed notable progress.
The joint-structure has taken shape with roof installation finished, focus is now on plastering, which is underway on the walls that would be sound proofed.
Pillars signifying the Great Zimbabwe monuments that will have the symbolic Zimbabwean bird on top have already been erected.
Speaking at the site, Shanghai Construction Group company project manager Mr Cai Libo said coronovirus has had an effect on the project.
“There are more than 100 people, including some project engineers, stuck in China due to coronavirus as they are being restricted to travel,” he said.
“Also, factories that are supposed to supply us with equipment like elevators were closed down for almost a month, affecting production and this has delayed the delivery of equipment here.”
Mr Cai expressed optimism that they will still meet their March 27 deadline to complete the 30-month project, which started on September 28 in 2018.
At the moment, focus is on the floors for the Senate chamber and the ceiling for the National Assembly chamber.
There is also work on the firefighting equipment, plumbing, electricity and telephone cables being installed.
The air conditioning systems are being installed and fire alerts are almost complete.
Unlike the current Parliament Building, the new building’s sitting arrangement will be circular, with a table at the centre.
When complete, both the Senate and National Assembly chambers will be sound proof.
Apart from the two chambers, workmen are working on fittings for the committee rooms and offices in the co-joined building that will house the office for the Head of State and Government.
The project is being undertaken on a 6-hectare stand on the high ground in Mount Hampden, about 20 kilometres from the city centre.
Situated on a hilltop, the New Parliament building is a six storey circular building co-joined between two and four part blocks, housing the two chambers that cover the two-storey part.
When complete, the new parliament will have features resembling the Great Zimbabwe monument and a fountain that signifies one of the world’s seven wonders, the scenic Victoria Falls.
The funding and construction of the imposing structure is being done by the Chinese government.
President Mnangagwa and his two Vice Presidents, Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, have visited the new building twice to assess progress and expressed satisfaction with the work being carried out.