By Zvamaida Murwira
An infrastructure bond issue for US$250 million will be floated to finance the rehabilitation and new construction of the 584km Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway from the flyover replacing Mbudzi roundabout at the intersection of Simon Mazorodze, Chitungwiza and High Glen Roads, legislators heard yesterday.
This comes as Government intends to upgrade tollgates to make them more efficient and close those whose revenue collection levels are not commensurate with the costs associated with running them, Permanent Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Engineer Tedious Chinyanga said this during a virtual meeting with Parliament’s portfolio committee on Transport.
While the Government has made it clear that it will not borrow except for capital spending that produces a revenue stream that can be used to service and repay any loan, it is common around the world to borrow to build toll roads and toll bridges with the toll fees assigned to paying off the loan.
Eng Chinyanga, who was accompanied by newly-appointed Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona at the meeting, said the US$250 million bond will unlock value for the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway, where rehabilitation and widening has already started using local financing and contractors.
“The bond is being worked out with Treasury together with the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe. A figure of US$250 million has been used for the road project including toll plazas,” said Eng Chinyanga.
The ministry had not been able to meet the target of rehabilitating 200 kilometres of the major highway, but had done 154km, with the shortfall mainly due to emergency work in Chimanimani not budgeted for in initial calculations, resulting in contractors slowing down the pace.
“We were slow to it, but we have now put our house in order,” he said.
Eng Chinyanga said current work on the road will continue guided by weather patterns given that they have since been advised of another cyclone in a few days’ time.
The ministry will restructure some entities including the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) to deal with corruption.
“The ministry has embarked on massive restructuring in order to rebrand Zinara away from its known culture of corruption.” Agreements between Zinara and some of its partners will be restructured and Treasury, with the central bank, will play an active role in that regard.
The ministry is determined to improve toll plazas and toll gates and those that were not bringing commensurate revenue would be closed for now.
“A deliberate action will be taken that those tollgates that do not justify their existence will be put aside. Where the collection from tollgates cannot meet the operational costs, be assured that those that cannot financially justify their existence will be closed down,” he said.
On the unbundling of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, work has been completed to split into two entities, one to be the regulator and one to manage and establish airports. This would avoid conflict of interest. The Herald