Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Augur Investments is insisting that it has the financial and technical ability to complete the Airport Road project despite having their contract terminated by the Harare City Council on grounds that it lacked the capacity to finish construction.
This has set the two on a collision course, with the city saying the project has been handed over to the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration.
Zinara yesterday confirmed that it was now seized with the project together with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development and were already working on the costs.
The contract was a barter deal between Harare and Augur in which the firm received 733,9 hectares of land in stands around the city as part payment.
The deal, which has always been shrouded in controversy, was signed in 2008 and the project should have been completed in 2010.
So far, Augur Investments has only completed a small stretch of the road, which it claimed cost US$20 million.
The firm said in a statement yesterday that it had temporarily suspended work due to complications with the land it was paid with for works completed.
The total project cost was put at US$80 million, which is several times above what local experts say it should cost.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo last week said Government was unhappy with the project adding that Government had now tasked Zinara to complete it.
Zinara chief executive Mr Frank Chitukutuku yesterday confirmed that Zinara had been tasked to complete the project.
“Our mandate is to go in and look at what has been done and we start from there to do the works and complete the project,” he said. “The project has actually been phased, the first phase is doing the road from the airport to the Harare Central Sorting Office, so that’s what we will be concentrating on.
“As we speak now, the Department of Roads is doing the costing and once that is done we will then start to do the project.”
Mr Chitukutuku said Zinara’s mandate was not to take over the deal, but to complete the project.
Augur Investments said yesterday that it was not officially informed of the termination of the contract.
“We wish to advise that Augur Investments OU is committed to the completion of the Airport Highway and has the financial and technical ability to do so,” said company chairperson Mr Alexander Sheremet.
“We are working tirelessly with City of Harare and Government to resolve these issues on which progress is being made. Augur Investments OU has always co-operated and been supportive of Government policy and decisions.”
Mr Alexander said the costing of the Airport Highway was US$28,1 million for the dual carriage way and slip roads and US$35,7 million for the five flyover bridges, with US$4,8 million for professional fees and provisional sums to cover items such as street lighting.
This brought the total cost to US$68,6 million before VAT.
Questions have been asked on the cost of the project considering that far bigger projects such as the construction of the 77km Ngezi Road in Chegutu by Zimplats cost only US$19 million, yet it is structurally one of the best roads in Africa and can carry massive road trains.