Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
THE economy is undergoing a silent construction boom on the back of increased business activity underlined by the Second Republic’s emphasis and deliberate strategies to grow the economy, industry players have noted.
The growth, said the players, is however, not getting deserved attention as the focus remains trained on project completion while spin-offs go unnoticed.
Since his inauguration in 2017, President Mnangagwa has emphasised the need to grow the economy and has along the way implemented practical steps anchored on the “Zimbabwe is open for business” strategy meant to attract Foreign Direct Investment into the country and drive the economy towards upper-middle-income status by 2030.
As a result, several capital-intensive projects are taking shape as construction companies latch onto the infrastructural development activities that are taking place around the country.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Dr Tinashe Manzungu commended President Mnangagwa’s approach to contracting local companies in the rehabilitation of the country’s road network.
“Employing local companies has a huge benefit to the economy in that while you improve infrastructure, you will be also promoting local participation in economic activities. The biggest advantage of hiring locally is that it creates jobs and provides training opportunities that would not otherwise be available,” said Dr Manzungu.
In separate interviews, players in the construction industry attested to increased business activity and a favourable business environment which they say is also playing a huge role in reducing unemployment.
Leading construction company, Leengate Civil Engineering Contractors, said construction is an economic industry thermometer that gives an indicator of the state of the economy and the outlook has been positive since the coming on board of the New Dispensation.
Leengate business development and marketing manager, Mr Eddie Charangwa, said getting contracts from Government has boosted their company profile.
“For us as a company, the most important thing is Government’s trust and confidence in a local company, that is why you have seen that in most of the contracts we get we finish the job ahead of the stipulated time,” said Mr Charangwa.
“Our company has also witnessed rapid growth. For example before 2018 we had about 110 employees, now we have more than 350 direct employees, and creating more than 400 jobs indirectly. We are also subcontracting start-ups supporting our core business,” said Mr Charangwa.
The company’s projects manager, Engineer Kennedy Bunhu, said the roads they were working on can last for more than 20 years without needing extensive rehabilitation.
He said the type of road they are constructing is “asphalt” which is strong enough to last more than two decades, and noted that to maintain these roads, a good drainage system is required.
Bitumen World operations manager Mr Chris Seager said contracting local companies for the construction of the Harare- Beitbridge highway is the best thing to happen to their sector in the past two decades.
“The contracts we are getting from Government are being appreciated by Bitumen World, and all the equipment we bought particularly in the field of reconstruction, recyclers, and pavers is now being utilised,” said Mr Seager.
“The best thing that has happened to the construction industry, in probably the past 20 years, is the use of local contractors on the Harare-Beitbridge highway. That is an enormous boost for the industry. We have all re-equipped and our skills base has increased, as an industry we are proud of that.
“When I first joined Bitumen World some eight years ago, we only had three tipper trucks, we have in excess of 65 now. We were employing less than 100 personnel those days; we are now well over a thousand.”
Drawcard Construction managing director Mr Samson Muzenya commended Government for prioritising the growth of local entities.
He also implored colleagues in the construction sector not to betray Government’s trust by doing substandard jobs and counselled start-ups to take jobs they have the capacity to do.
“Government has done well in contracting local companies, I am happy they are giving a livelihood to their own entrepreneurs,” said Mr Muzenya.
“The advantage of trusting a local company like us is that the proceeds accruing from these contracts will be reinvested locally as opposed to foreign repatriation,” he said.