Major civil engineering works are now in progress to build the complex Mbudzi interchange flyover, which in the end will see a set of 12 interconnected bridges and bridge-type structures replace the congested roundabout to ensure traffic can move without hindrance or stopping through the critical intersection of major north-south and east-west roads.
Detours for the roundabout are now almost complete, and the roundabout itself will be closed for 18 months to enable the construction of the traffic interchange.
The initial bridging work, which can be done while the roundabout is still in use, are underway on the Glen Norah, Chitungwiza and Harare-Beitbridge roads where contractors were observed casting lower parts of the walls.
At the widened detour, road markings and signage are in place.
In efforts to develop the country into an upper middle-income economy by 2030, the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa is investing significantly in the upgrade and rehabilitation of road infrastructure.
Businesses along Chitungwiza Road have since been relocated a few metres from the roundabout along that direction as construction of the interchange flyover moves a gear up.
Business owners and motorists at the site were generally happy that work was progressing well on replacing the old roundabout, but some informal traders were worried about their future and now everyone understands the incredible amount of building needed they realise that they have to use detours for some time before having a clear run.
A motorist, Mrs Patience Zisengwe, said the project was now becoming a reality.
“At first we thought it was just a talk show, but I am glad that there is notable progress. Driving in any direction at the roundabout it is just construction works ongoing,” she said.
While some vendors are still doing well, others who were on the central island have had to move as this was fenced off and are finding business a bit tougher.
A vendor at the area, Mrs Lynnet Muzengi, said her business operations were normal.
“Our business is doing well. We were notified in time to relocate and land is going to be prepared for us to operate at near Masteps area.
“The relocation process is moving smoothly without any interferences. Commuter omnibuses will also be loading and offloading passengers there at Masteps, a major relief to us as the operators are our major clients,” she said.
Mr William Muzarurwi on Thursday said his small business was advised to relocate since their workspace will be fenced off to pave way for the construction works.
Another vendor, Mrs Roselyn Maseko said her business was now on a nose dive. “The project is very necessary, but it has left us crippled. It is no longer business as usual. Some parts of the roundabout are fenced off dividing the flow of human traffic in turn blocking the swift movement of some potential customers,” she said.
Mr Brian Ncube said when the roundabout closes he will relocate to Chitungwiza. “At the moment I am still working here hoping to relocate to Chigovanyika in St Marys when construction is at full peak.
“Currently I am still safe although sometimes I am forced to move due to dust each time the contractor is laying concrete,” he said.
A frequent user of the roundabout, Mr Obert Nongwe the encircling of the central island at the roundabout was a blow to those who were there. “Our hope is that the project will be completed quickly so that we have safe vending stalls,” he said.
A beverages vendor, Mrs Joyce Chiripai said her operations are down.
“When the construction began my revenue inflows are a bit down. On a good day I used to pocket about US$200 from my two stalls, but now things have changed. We were ordered to relocate, but I am yet to do so as I am following the commuter omnibus operators whom are my major clients,” she said.
Mr Justin Bhasera said vendors were now crowded as some places have now been fenced off for construction. “There is now stiff competition as all traders that were operating in the central island at the roundabout are here along Chitungwiza Road,” she said.
A shop owner, Mr Gilbert Mufandaedza also said business was good but will be likely affected when the roundabout has been totally closed.
Motorist Mrs Viola Mutemo hoped the project will be completed within the stipulated time frame.
Mbudzi roundabout had become a source of major inconvenience to both domestic and international travellers where delays of up to three hours during peak hours as well as traffic jams had become the order of the day.
The new interchange comprises five large box culverts, one river bridge, four grade separation bridges, mechanically stabilised earth embankments and asphalt paved loop roads and directional ramps.
It is envisaged that the interchange will also be adorned with modern roadlights, CCTV, SATC compliant road signage and feature diversion routes to form part of the permanent works.
Construction work is being done in line with regional engineering standards and international best practices.
Funding of the project is being done through local financial institutions while the contractor for the project is a joint venture of three accomplished local road construction companies: Tensor Systems, Fossil Contracting and Masimba Construction collectively coming under the banner of Tefoma Construction joint venture.
Some of the benefits of the project include decongestion of the Mbudzi area by creating streamlined and efficient traffic flow, reducing transit time and accidents in the area.
The project is creating direct employment for over 700 employees and downstream activities for over 10 000 people while creating skills transfer and upgrade for the Department of Roads staff.