Sunday, May 21, 2017

Harare-Beitbridge  Funds Start to Roll In
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

An Austrian company — Geiger International — bankrolling the estimated US$1 billion Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway dualisation has set in motion processes to release the first batch of funds ahead of site operations in the next few weeks.

The financiers made a firm undertaking last week to President Mugabe that the US$984 million needed for the project is readily available.

President Mugabe launched the historic Beitbirdge-Harare Highway at Chaka Growth Point in Chirumhanzu amidst pump and fanfare last Thursday.

Selection of the local companies that are set to be awarded contacts for the project is now in progress with the successful bidders expected to be announced from next week, so that they immediately begin work.

The US$1 billion dollar, Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway is set to unlock massive benefits for Zimbabwe, with tens of thousands of jobs set to be created under the initiative, which is set to become the largest road infrastructure project to be undertaken in the country since independence.

It is also expected to be one of the busiest roads in sub-Saharan Africa as the highway will link the two regions of Southern and Central Africa.

The dualised road will boost trade between Zimbabwe and its neighbours with the country expected to gain immensely from increased bilateral trade and transit fees among a host of other upstream and downstream profits.

The project is one of the infrastructure ventures identified as an economic enabler under the country’s Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).

Speaking to The Sunday Mail last Friday, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said funding for the project had been secured with the first allocation of funds expected soon.

“The work that is underway now is the process of sending the first trench of funds,” he said.

“This is an international project and the funding has been made available. The US$1 billion for the project is all there.

“The investors personally told the President where the money is coming from. The financing is solid.”

Dr Gumbo said a special team from Geiger International was on the ground to assess work.

“The investor is now going on the ground. They have started the process to sublet to the contractors,” he said.

“There was a group that actually wanted to start dualisation of the road before the President commissioned it. This shows how eager they are. We said lets commission first.

“They are very eager to start and they can’t wait to get the ball rolling. We had a meeting with them yesterday before they left the country.

“They have brought in a lot of equipment for the six segments of the road which have been identified.”

Dr Gumbo said Geiger is keen to complete construction of the road in less than the three year period planned.

“Work is going to start as soon as possible. They have said they want to finish the project in two and a half years instead of the three years which are in the contract.

“After selection of companies that qualify, there is going to be identification of camps that will be set up during road construction.

“After the logistical issues such as the appointment of contractors.

“They have a unit of engineers that is already in the country. They should begin work by end of June.”

Dr Gumbo said the successful commissioning of the project had sent a strong message to doom-sayers who were anticipating the initiative to fail.

“I was shocked by the level of negativity exhibited by some people and some media houses that seemed to be pushing for the project to fail,’ he said.

“It seems they are going out of their way to throw spanners but everything is going according to plan and nothing is going to stop us from now on.”

Zim Asset identifies road infrastructure as one of the projects that must be undertaken to facilitate economic development.

The Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway has outlived its design life as it has been in use for over 55 years, against its lifespan of 20 years.

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