Hre-Beitbridge highway nears completion . . . as 435km now open to traffic Work on the foundation of a bridge at Manyame River near Skyline Tollgate along Harare-Masvingo Highway has commenced as the reconstruction of the last stretch to Harare nears completion. — Picture: Justin Mutenda

Freeman Razemba

Senior Reporter

THE rehabilitation of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway is near completion with 435km now open to traffic, as the start of work on the upgrade of the 342km Harare-Chirundu Highway has also reached an advanced stage with five of the contractors already on their sections where they are doing routine maintenance of the road.

The Harare-Chirundu Highway, the northern leg of the main north-south corridor, helps Zimbabwe to connect with Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

Most of the highway needs a rebuild, with the Karoi-Kariba stretch now having bad patches characterised by potholes and eroding edges making it difficult for motorists to manoeuvre. Only the stretch from Chirundu up the escarpment is considered to be in good condition after the recent major work partly financed by Japanese support.

The rehabilitation of the Harare-Beitbridge highway and modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post to bring in efficient systems aimed at reducing or eliminating delays, are the two signature projects of President Mnangagwa’s administration.

Beitbridge Border Post has already been commissioned by the President and users of the busiest land border in the SADC region commended the speed with which they were being cleared, and the ease of clearance over the festive period.

In an interview yesterday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said the contractors doing the Harare-Beitbridge Highway were on schedule and would soon complete the road.

“The Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Road is also another flagship project to demonstrate that we are also serious as the Second Republic. Within the past two years we were hovering around 100km but as we speak, we have opened close to 435km which shows where we are going now.

“So right now we are saying, counting down, to say, we are left with 145km, and at the end of June we are opening more kilometres. Basically this year we would have completed this stretch from South to North and now bound to Chirundu. So we are saying it’s a complete stretch which starts from Beitbridge to Harare, Harare to Chirundu,” he said.

Minister Mhona said on the Harare-Chirundu Highway they had started the procurement processes which are set to be complete within the coming few weeks.

“As we speak we have started the procurement of the Harare-Chirundu stretch and I am happy that all our contractors empowered by the Second Republic, once again, now have the capacity to demonstrate that they can also compete within the country and the region. Precisely this is what we are doing. So in terms of going to Chirundu, you will see now that in the next coming weeks we would have completed the procurement element and already the five contractors are on their sections where they are doing routine maintenance of the road.

“And I am happy that as we then move, it’s not only the other road (Harare-Chirundu), we have also targeted all our trunk roads. We are working on another arrangement of concession on the Harare-Nyampanda Road. We are also working on a bypass, which is the Christmas Bypass, if you know Mutare. We are also rehabilitating Forbes Border Post and Chirundu simultaneously. So these are some of the projects just to mention, but a few to what we are doing as a ministry,” he said. 

The rehabilitation, effectively the rebuilding, of the Chirundu-Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway, had been mooted for a long time as the work done in the 1960s was definitely in need of being drastically improved to cope with traffic that was inconceivable then.

A foreign tender for the reconstruction was awarded to an Austrian firm, Geiger International, with a ground-breaking ceremony held in May 2017, under the First Republic, to mark the beginning of works at the cost of US$2,7 billion.

However, nothing happened on the ground. So among the early moves of the Second Republic was to cancel the foreign tender in 2018 and then engage local companies to rehabilitate the highway.

Five local companies were contracted to undertake the work: Tensor Systems, Masimba Holdings, Fossil Contracting, Exodus & Company, and Bitumen World.

The scope of the project involves dualisation, upgrading and tolling of the highway.

The entire north-south corridor has been divided into three sections: the 580km Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway together with eight toll plazas, the 342km Harare-Chirundu highway with six toll plazas, and the 59km Harare Ring Road with three toll plazas. These tolls are what pay for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the road.

Government has also come up with the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme 2 (ERRP2) not only to focus on major highways, but also those roads in suburbs of towns and cities that have been abandoned by opposition-run councils over the years, leaving motorists to navigate potholes and increasing the cost of owning and operating vehicles.

Over 2 000km of roads have been re-gravelled, while 6 627,9km have been graded, with 701 drainage structures constructed or repaired and 184 wash-aways reclaimed.

Across the country, 4 491,5km of drains have been opened while 6 141,2km of verges have been cleared.

Progress continues to be made on the patching of potholes, with 4 794,8km of road having been attended to.

President Mnangagwa recently urged people, especially in urban areas, to vote out incompetent opposition councillors and legislators and bring in those from Zanu PF who are pushed by the party to deliver for the people.

Zanu PF, led by President Mnangagwa, has been on a drive to improve infrastructure across the country.

Dams, roads, bridges, hospitals, clinics and schools have been constructed while irrigation schemes that stopped operating several years ago, have been resuscitated by President Mnangagwa’s administration.

The President has said that with more economic activities now taking place across the country, Zimbabweans are guaranteed a massive improvement in their living standards in line with Vision 2030 of an empowered and prosperous upper middle income society.

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