Govt earmarks $150m for highway rehab

Innocent Ruwende in Chivi
Government has set aside $150 million for the rehabilitation of accident-prone Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway. Speaking at a construction site in Beatrice where Department of Roads workers were completing a three-kilometre detour, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) had committed to working on the project.

“So far the budget is $150m, but currently the money allocated by Zinara is $40m. By next week we are going to open the detour roads to allow us to work on the actual roads. Rehabilitation of the actual road starts next week and will take three and half years to complete the whole project,” he said.

“During the first phase of rehabilitating the road, we are going to dualise 10km before and after every town. This is a very important road. I am happy with the progress taking place. Here in Beatrice we have constructed a 3km detour and in Chivhu its 6km. We are also starting to scrap the old surface next week. The last time when I came here it was muddy, there was not much happening but now they working 24/ 7 and during holidays.”

Minister Matiza said he was monitoring the road to ensure that it meets it’s deadline of three and half years.

“I am here to monitor the progress. As the President enunciated, I want to make sure the project finishes on time.”

Minister Matiza said the door was open for Public Private Partnerships but currently Government was using local resources.

“The door is open for foreign companies to come in but for now we are using local resources,” he said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1,2 billion. It is expected that the use of local funding will create jobs and business opportunities.

The Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway facilitates regional trade and the movement of millions of people between Southern, Central and East Africa.

Road works for the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway consist of a phased dualisation, rehabilitation and widening of the existing road from the current 7 meter width to Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission (SATTC) standards of 12,5 meter width, and adding climbing lanes where necessary.

According to the 2019 Infrastructure Plan released by Treasury this month, the rehabilitation of the road through private-public-partnerships has been difficult, hence the switch to seek financing from the domestic market.

Upgrading the road network through a PPP arrangement has remained a challenge, notwithstanding the difficulties the motoring public continue to face on the route due to its poor state.

Government has since reviewed the delivery model, with local resources also targeted to be used to undertake highway upgrade works, leveraging on Zinara cash flows.

“Doing so will allow for timeous implementation of the project in a cost-effective manner, and in consistent with the objective of maximising the use of local content,” reads part of the 2019 Infrastructure Plan.

According to the 2019 Infrastructure Plan, an amount of $300 million will be disbursed to the project this year, comprising of $50 million in fiscal resources and $250 million proceeds raised through a Zinara Infrastructure Bond.

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