By Nyemudzai Kakore
Government is engaging a new contractor from China, Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group Limited (AFECC), for the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge and Harare-Chirundu highways after it withdrew the tender awarded to an Austrian company, Geiger International.
The development follows a Cabinet directive made in March instructing the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to begin the process of terminating the contract with Geiger after interminable delays in project implementation.
During his five-day State visit to China recently, President Mnangagwa said Government had withdrawn Geiger’s tender because of endless delays.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo yesterday confirmed the development in an interview.
He said AFECC came second during the initial tendering process.
Dr Gumbo said Government cancelled the Geiger tender deal after it became impatient with lack of construction activity along the country’s busiest highway that links Zimbabwe, South Africa and several other countries.
“After the cancellation, Cabinet in its own wisdom looked at the urgency of that road project and decided that we consider the second bidder for that project. The second bidder is a company called Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group Limited, AFECC, a Chinese company.”
Dr Gumbo said two meetings have been held so far between his ministry and AFECC, with Government seeking a firm commitment from the company that it would complete the project.
“At the moment, negotiations are going on well with AFECC, he said. They have been providing the information that we are requesting and they are also asking questions, which we are providing answers to.
“At the moment, all I can say is that there is progress between ourselves and the second bidder and we are hoping to conclude our discussions very soon.”
Japan, Dr Gumbo said, extended a $21 million grant to Zimbabwe for the improvement of steep gradients on the Makuti-Chirundu section of the North-South Corridor.
This, he said, will reduce the final cost of rehabilitating the Harare-Chirundu section of the corridor.
The grant agreement was signed on June 19, 2018.
“The Japanese Government availed a grant of $21 million for the rehabilitation and improvement of the Makuti escarpment,” said Dr Gumbo.
This will cover 6,5 kilometres and will aid in improving navigation.
It will also reduce the final cost of rehabilitating the Harare-Chirundu section of the corridor.”
AFECC constructed the Zimbabwe National Defence College and Longcheng Plaza in Harare, and the Golden Peacock Hotel in Mutare and intends to put up a hotel and conference centre in Victoria Falls.