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Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway construction set to commence

HARARE–Dualisation and rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway will commence in April this year, following the groundbreaking ceremony of the project which is expected early next month, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Austrian firm Geiger International will dualise the Beitbridge-Harare segment at a cost of $984 million under a 25 year Build-Operate-Transfer model.

The Harare-Chirundu segment of the highway will be constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) under a loan financing model.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said the rains that were falling had delayed commencement of the project.

Dr Gumbo said President Robert Mugabe was expected to officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project early next month, triggering the beginning of construction work.

“We are hoping that His Excellency (President Mugabe) is going to do a groundbreaking ceremony which will trigger the commencement of the construction of this road during the end of this month or the first or  second week of March,” he said.

“The place or spot where the groundbreaking ceremony is going to take place has already been identified. Some of the engineers from Geiger international and their contracted company are already in the country, so things are moving. Before you go for our independence (on April 18) work will already have started.”

He said at least 40 percent of the value of the project would be subcontracted to Zimbabwean companies.

“That 40 percent is not what ourselves as a Ministry are going to say give to so and so or use this criteria. That will be done by the contractor because they are the ones who must come up with a project that satisfies us,” he said.

The Beitbridge-Harare road will be constructed over three years. The existing road will be widened and rehabilitated while at least 37 new two lane bridges and 8 tollgates will also be constructed.

For the Harare-Chirundu segment of the corridor, the government expects to conclude the loan financing agreement with CHEC by mid this year.

The Beitbridge-Harare highway, whose state has become so deplorable  that it has become a  deathtrap to motorists as hundreds of lives are  lost and many more people are maimed, is the busiest in the country with  over 34 000 haulage trucks using it every month up to Chirundu.

It is the gateway to countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.- New Ziana

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