HARARE - Transport minister Joram Gumbo says government is “restarting the process” of identifying potential investment partners for the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu road and rehabilitation of border posts.
The ex-Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip said the move had been necessitated by “problems encountered” on the Plumtree-Harare highway and other issues that the State had overlooked, which led to the cancellation of an earlier tender.
“...there were issues (but)... we thought we were going to announce last year... but there were certain problems we... we had not noticed. Besides looking at funds, when we looked at it holistically, we said no let’s involve more people,” Gumbo said, adding his ministry was already conducting the necessary ground work and Harare would segment the venture to involve many players instead of giving it to one company.
“And looking at the problems we had with other roads... we went back and realised it’s not a matter of getting a contractor, we needed to also get involved,” he said.
Without specifying the time frames, Gumbo emphasised that Cabinet needed to discuss the projects before announcing the winning bidders.
“We are yet to finalise our requirements (about)... and what kind of border post we want, and how much it will cost us (for) seven border posts,” he said, adding an announcement would thus be made after executive approval.
While the entire project had an estimated cost of $2 billion, Gumbo said costs were likely to increase given bridge constructions and border post redevelopments.
“We have to... come up with... the quantum and what it costs (for a) proper border post, which will cater for everything. It’s almost like a town we will do the same (for) Chirundu (as well). So we wanted to have a relook (at) all of these things and have one big project,” he said.
However, the minister emphasised that the road was “going to fund itself with money from toll collections”.
As a gateway for Zimbabwe’s $3 billion trade with South Africa and many other northern countries dependent on it, the key Beitbridge economic artery has been earmarked for rehabilitation since 2002, when the first contractor ZimHighways Consortium (ZimHighways) was handed the job to commence works.
Even, though, the local grouping was awarded the tender to dualise the road about eight years ago, the construction lobby was accused of failing to raise enough funds or capital to embark on the project, hence its contract was cancelled.
After agreeing to withdraw its two-year case in the High Court last year, ZimHighways has sort of been assured of a role by government once Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has secured an appropriate funding model for the project.