By Walter Mswazie
The contractor for the long-awaited Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway dualisation project has started bringing in the machinery into the country paving way for the commencement of the $1.7 billion project.
Former President Robert Mugabe officially launched the start of work on the dualisation of the mega-project in May this year.
The highway is Zimbabwe’s busiest and most economically significant.It is part of the North-South Corridor that directly links landlocked Zimbabwe and Zambia with access to the Indian Ocean ports of Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa.
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Dr Joram Gumbo, said in an interview last Wednesday that Government had secured all the money required for the project.
He said the Austrian company, Geiger International, has completed surveying of the Beitbridge-Harare Road and identified places where it will set up the machinery.
“Everything pertaining to the dualisation project is working on smoothly. The contractor has started moving equipment into the country,” said Dr Gumbo.
He attributed the delay to the need to first register the company that is supposed to inject the funds with Geiger International.
“The project is now going on smoothly because we have signed some important agreements with the contractor. We had to address some modalities with the State Procurement Board and that has since been done,” said the minister.
“The financier of the project could not register their company with Geiger International to be able send money into the country but that has been addressed.”
Dr Gumbo said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had its own problems, which also contributed to the delay but said that has since been sorted out.
“As I am speaking the company has moved all the money for Beitbridge-Harare dualisation project into the country and I can safely say the money is secure.”
“The company engineers have done the surveys of the road and where they will put their machinery. The company’s base will be in Masvingo,” he said.
“The project will cost $1.7 billion and not the $2 billion as has been widely reported by the media.
“The Beitbridge-Harare highway dualisation will cost $998 million, which has come in the form of a loan payable over a period of 20 years through tollgates money.”
Dr Gumbo said the Harare ring road will cost $300 million and will be done by a Chinese company while the Harare-Chirundu stretch will cost $665 million.
This, he explained, was minus the $8 million secured from Japan.
“I do not know where the $2 billion is coming from,” he said.
Geiger International was awarded the tender for the 580-kilometre road last year. The project will be built under a Build-Operate-Transfer model.
The Government signed a memorandum of understanding for the contract with Geiger International (GI) in 2012 but the absence of a legal framework until 2016 delayed the deal. The Chronicle