Road, border rehab transform Beitbridge Mr Loud Ramakgapola

Bulawayo Bureau

Massive road construction projects in Beitbridge, which dovetail with the ongoing US$300 million modernisation of the border post and being spearheaded by the Second Republic, have transformed the face of the border town.

The modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post is among the top infrastructural projects aimed at stimulating economic transformation in line with the drive to attain an empowered and prosperous upper middle-income society by 2030.

The project is also expected to promote the ease of doing business and trade facilitation between Zimbabwe and the entire region and beyond.

Beitbridge roadworks, in particular, are a component of the flagship Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway widening, reconstruction and rehabilitation, a critical component of the North-South Corridor.

The project is being undertaken by five local companies and is being wholly funded by the Government.

By May this year, at least 313km of the rehabilitated highway had been opened to traffic. The 971km project involves the dualisation, upgrading and tolling of the highway.

The road has been divided into three sections namely; Beitbridge-Harare: 570km (eight toll plazas), Harare- Chirundu: 342km (six toll plazas) and Harare Ring Road: 59km (three toll plazas).

The estimated total project cost is US$2,7 billion. The project has already created employment opportunities across the country as well as improved transport and trade in the region.

Upon completion, the tolls will also provide a revenue stream for maintenance and rehabilitation of roads across the country.

Under the Infrastructure, Utilities and Digital Economy cluster, Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy (NDS 1) prioritises completion of road rehabilitation projects.

The contractor, Bitumen World is constructing a total of 6,3km within Beitbridge Town.

So far, the 5,3km of the road linking the Beitbridge Border Post and the highways leading to Bulawayo and Harare is being revamped with attention also given to the drainage system.

When our Bulawayo Bureau visited the various sites of the roadworks this week, construction workers were busy redesigning and reconstructing the roads to increase safety and reduce congestion.

The road leading to the border post, which is one of the busiest, has been completely overhauled and now conforms to international standards. The Beitbridge Town Council has been battling clogged drainage systems that resulted in flash flooding in the event of heavy rains. The contractor is working on improving accessibility by widening and resurfacing portions of some of the feeder roads in the border town.

Bitumen World is one of the five companies contracted by the Government to widen the Harare-Beitbridge Highway. Matabeleland South provincial roads engineer, Mangisi Nkomo, said a broader section of the 5,3km leading to Beitbridge Border Post has since been opened to traffic.

“We are currently upgrading and rehabilitating 6,3km within the Beitbridge urban area. This section comprises 5,3km from the border post along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Highway and some sections have been dualised,” he said.

“We are also doing at least 1km from the Beitbridge-Masvingo road junction. This will also see the reconstruction of the roundabout at the border post entrance to complement the upgrading of the border post and works have already commenced.”

Eng Nkomo said they were also constructing a state-of-the-art roundabout at the point where the road branches to Bulawayo and Masvingo and is nearing completion.

“To date, 3,2km of the 5,3km has been opened to traffic on the south-bound lane and 1,5km on the northbound lane. The 1km for the Masvingo road leg has been completed and opened to traffic,” he said.

“The overall progress to completion is 80 percent. The roadworks are actually part of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway upgrading and rehabilitation project whereby in Matabeleland South, a total of 29km will be completed.”

Beitbridge Town Clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola, said the roadworks coupled with the modernisation of the border post will enhance the beauty of the border town and boost investment.

“We are seeing more people visiting the border town due to an efficient border post and this will boost business in the town,” he said.

“The standard set in the border upgrade may spill over into setting the standards for infrastructure in the town, especially looking at how the roads have changed the face of our town.

“In fact, we are likely to see developers benchmarking against the high standard at the border, which would be a positive development for the town.”

Addressing the inaugural Buy Zimbabwe 2022 public procurement conference and awards ceremony in Harare on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa said local companies contracted by the Government to reconstruct and rehabilitate roads and highways are doing sterling and professional work, which highlights their capabilities.

Previously, local companies were being overlooked in terms of the awarding of tenders for big national projects. The President said under the Second Republic, the Government has taken a bold, decisive and revolutionary decision to fundamentally transform the country through the awarding of procurement contracts and tenders to local enterprises.

The move by the Government has significantly helped to create and domesticate employment as well as improve skills levels, while also saving the country, foreign currency.

Under the second phase of the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2), the Government is resealing 1 290km of roads, reconstructing 427 drainage structures and working on 24 830km of erosion works and drains across the country.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development is also working with local authorities as the implementing agent in carrying out the roadworks under ERRP2.

Cabinet recently declared the country’s road network a state of disaster as most of the roads have become untrafficable due to ageing and damage by heavy rains that were received during the past summer season.

Government has since mandated the Department of Roads to take over 500km of roads from urban councils.

The roadworks under the ERRP and involvement of some private sector players, has started to change the face of roads across the country.

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