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Beitbridge-Harare road upgrade begins

by Staff reporter
29 Oct 2019 at 06:42hrs | Views
CIVIL works on the upgrading of the $600 million Beitbridge-Harare highway have begun in earnest under locally based contractors after Government could not agree on a number of issues with foreign contractors.

It is understood that among other things the shortage of foreign currency has been the main bottleneck to the project.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, who toured the works between Bubi and Beitbridge yesterday, said the upgrading of the road, which is part of the North to South corridor (under the African Union classification), had been divided into five segments.

He said most of the contractors were already on the ground and that the works had been divided into two phases.

According to Minister Matiza, the first phase includes the widening of the road to 12,5 metres to meet the standard Sadc road size. The second phase, he said, would involve the dualisation of the road from Beitbridge to Harare.

"What we are seeing here is the fulfilment of our Government's pre-election promises," said Minister Matiza.

"You will note that initially we had engaged foreign contractors but we realised that it could be more expensive and cumbersome to implement the project. So, we have identified local contractors who are already on the ground.

"Each contractor will in the next seven months' work on upgrading the road for 20km on their segments. After that we will relook at terms and give them another portion. The idea is to work on the road project in piecemeal.

"Our target is to complete the upgrading and widening of the highway from its current state to 12,5 metres. For the Beitbridge section we have Bitumen World who have already started on civil works. To avoid dereliction of duty and slow implementation of the project, this time around we have entered into tight contracts with strict ground rules and timelines.

"What is happening on the ground so far shows that all role players have the zeal and passion to move forward together as we seek to transform and upgrade the country's road infrastructure".

He said Government was equally worried about the state of the commercial road which links the country with South Africa (Sadc's economic powerhouse) and those countries north of the Zambezi River.

The Minister said the road had become a death trap for many travellers and many people were now looking at alternative transit routes to avoid Zimbabwe because of the state of affairs on the road.

"We are losing a lot of human capital and potential revenue from transit commercial traffic hence we have to up the tempo on this project," said Minister Matiza.

A representative of Bitumen World, Mr Bigboy Sibindi, said they had mobilised equipment on site and were on course to meet the set target.

"We have started working on the 20km stretch and are confident that the project will be completed as agreed with our client. We are also going to outsource labour from the communities living along this road," he said.

Mr Sibindi said they were currently working on a detour to give them space to carry out civil works on the actual road.

Source - chronicle