From George Maponga in Masvingo
The face of Rutenga in Mwenezi District is fast changing with the growth point undergoing rapid expansion as it reaps huge benefits from its designation as a dry port.
The Second Republic, led by President Mnangagwa, wants to expedite opening of a dry port at Rutenga to de-congest Beitbridge Border Post and quicken human and land cargo movement as part of efforts to meet vision 2030 targets.
Rutenga, which is the district’s capital, was identified as a suitable place for a dry port owing to its location at the centre of a road and rail network linking Zimbabwe and South Africa — its largest trading partner — together with Mozambique.
Since its designation as a dry port, the urban settlement is now home to a new Government complex while private players are rushing to open service stations and hardware shops with financial institutions expected to follow suit.
Mwenezi Rural District Council is expected to adopt a local development plan that will designate land for both residential and industrial purposes at the growth point.
Council chief executive Mr Albert Chivanga last week said the development plan was awaiting approval by a full council.
“We have worked on the local development plan and a full council meeting will soon meet to approve it after which various companies and businesses that have been allocated land will start actual construction work.”
“We are excited by the level of interest to invest in Rutenga and the future looks good because companies are stampeding to come and invest thanks to the planned opening of a dry port here.”
Among the big companies eyeing a piece of the cake at Rutenga are beef processing firms seeking to exploit Mwenezi’s vast cattle herd.
“More than two abattoirs have applied for land in the recent past while there is a Marula processing plant being earmarked for the growth point. The plan is to make Rutenga a major producer of export quality beef and processed Marula juice,” said Mr Chivanga.
He said his council had also offered Zimbabwe Revenue Authority 12 hectares of land to set up a holding bay for the envisaged dry port.
Some investors making inquiries were from Asian countries such as India, which he said was evidence of the growth point’s vast potential.
Government has already taken the lead by completing a new modern complex, housing State offices to make sure provision of key services is housed at one place for easy logistical processes. Future water problems were also being forestalled by upgrading works undertaken by Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
Rutenga draws its water from Manyuchi Dam, one of the largest water bodies in Masvingo province, which remains largely underutilised. The urban settlement’s population is billed to quadruple to over 20 000 in the next few years, buoyed by the opening of a dry port and other investment that will flow.
It is hoped that the dry port opening and subsequent growth of Rutenga will also have a domino effect on the growth of Sango Border Post, which is a gateway to Mozambique to the south east.
Government has already started upgrading the Rutenga-Sango and Rutenga-Zvishavane roads to create a faster and accessible link between the growth point and both eastern and western parts of the country.