Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
INDIGENOUS contractors should form consortiums in order to strengthen capacity to win bigger tenders, Midlands Provincial Minister of State, Jason Machaya, has said.
In his keynote address at the Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association (ZBCA) Midlands region’s built environment appreciation awards dinner at the weekend, Minister Machaya said it was crucial for local contractors to pool their resources together in seeking to exploit the 40 percent stake of national projects such as the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway.
President Mugabe officially launched the mega-highway project in May. He said 40 percent of the work will be undertaken by Zimbabwean contractors as part of measures to give jobs to local companies.
“It is of paramount importance that partnerships are built between the public sector and the private sector in creating an appropriate vehicle to develop our nation. We encourage the business sector to form partnerships among yourselves in order to strengthen your capacities by pooling together financial, capital and human resources as you tender for bigger jobs.
“A month ago President Mugabe commissioned the Beitbridge-Harare road project and it is my appeal that you form consortiums if you haven’t and claim a stake in the national project,” said Minister Machaya in a speech read on his behalf by, Mr Charles Mutimbairi, the deputy director in his office.
Minister Machaya said the construction industry was a key component for the economic development of the country. He said all contractors should be registered so that Government is able to monitor and control the quality of works.
ZB Bank Midlands district manager, Mr Walter Mazaru, said banks were willing to fund contractors but the problem was that most had no insurance or title deeds.
He said mortgage finance was the safest way banks could also finance contractors’ projects.
“The contractor enters into an agreement with the bank and receives cash upfront then makes payments over a set time span until the loan is paid in full. The problem we have is most contractors don’t have title deeds. So I call on contractors to approach local authorities and map a way forward,” he said.
ZBCA Midlands region chairman, Mr Tinashe Manzungu, said the construction industry continues to reel under funding constraints, as local banks impose stringent borrowing conditions against a background of liquidity challenges.
He however said the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway was going to be a game changer for the sector.
“We need to work together so that we get meaningful and big projects for our own development as well as the development of the country. Big projects are usually taken up by foreign contractors due to lack of funding locally and therefore the need for us to form consortiums,” said Mr Manzungu.
Over 50 construction companies such as Fordcon construction, Zimbuild, Datco, learning institutions, producers, received shields and certificates of appreciation for remaining steadfast and developing the industry and the country at large.
At its peak in the late 1990s, the construction industry employed over 35 000 people.