Nduduzo Tshuma in Bubi, Beitbridge
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said he was impressed by standard of work exhibited by the five local contractors engaged in the rehabilitation, upgrading and widening of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Road, saying their work meets the regional standards required by Sadc.
The Government engaged local contractors namely Tensor Systems, Fossil Contracting, Masimba Construction, Exodus and Company and Bitumen World for the project which for many years suffered many false starts under the old dispensation.
Speaking as he commissioned the first phase of the project in Bubi, Beitbridge, President Mnangagwa said the engagement of local contractors in the project bears testimony to Zimbabweans’ ability to champion their own development.
A critical component of the North-South corridor, the road has been upgraded to the required 12,5 metres width of other trunk roads in line with the Southern Africa Transport and Communications Standards.
The road, one of the busiest regional transit links in Southern and Eastern Africa connecting Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Tanzania will also result in the increased movement of cargo and travel along the route to the benefit of the country and the region.
This is in line with the Government’s drive towards an efficient road infrastructure that will boost other sectors like tourism, agriculture, mining and others in pursuit of Vision 2030.
“You will recall that the implementation of the modernisation, upgrading and widening of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare Road suffered delays and a few false starts. However, under the Second Republic, we were determined to redress the situation for the benefit of our economy and the travelling public. As such, this project was one of the key promises in the 2018 People’s Manifesto,” said President Mnangagwa.
President Mnangagwa said the road was put to tender under the old dispensation and an Austrian company won it at a cost of US$1,9 billion.
He said under the new administration a requirement was made for the contractor to show proof of funds and the Australian firm failed to do so.
He said the company was also asked to give evidence of where they constructed a road in Africa or in Europe and they also failed leading to a decision to engage local contractors.
“We decided to engage the expertise within our country, that our people, our companies, our own engineers. So, we said we shall construct, widen the road, dualise the road with our own domestic resources,” said President Mnangagwa.
Resultantly, the President said, the cost of doing the road will cost less than US$650 million, saving US$1,3 billion.
“The standard of work produced by our local companies, our own people meets the regional standards required in Sadc. We are grateful to our people,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Government is unwavering in its commitment to empower local companies.
“On my way here, I had the opportunity to appreciate the road works along various sections of the highway. The quality and standard work that is being done by our five contractors is indeed impressive,” said President Mnangagwa.
“And more importantly also, each company at each section employs the local people in that area. We have no engineers from outside Zimbabwe, all the engineers and technicians are local. This is what it should be.”
President Mnangagwa commended the department of roads for complementing works by contractors through works on the Beatrice and Chivhu sections of the highway which had become high accident zones.
“The speedy completion of the road sections we are commissioning today, bears testimony of our ability as Zimbabweans to champion our own development with unity, focus and common purpose,” said President Mnangagwa.
“It is further pleasing that skilled locals, in various fields such as engineering, architecture and surveying among others, constitute the bulk of those doing the work. This is how it should be, Zimbabweans building their motherland, brick upon brick, stone upon stone.
“This is what the Heroes and heroines we will be remembering next week fought for. The onus is now on us to build from where they left.”
The President urged the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to continue engaging a wide spectrum of stakeholders for the development of other infrastructure throughout the country using local capital skills and resources.
President Mnangagwa said infrastructure development is a key driver for progress and critical enabler for productivity and sustainable economic growth.
He said investment in infrastructure accounts for more than half of the recent improvement in economic growth in Africa and has the potential to achieve multifaceted benefits.
President Mnangagwa said the project comes at a time when Governments and regional institutions are closely collaborating to improve service delivery through the expansion of road infrastructure to increase intra-African trade to give impetus to the African Continental Free Trade Area.
He said the project has been included in the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite and the African Union Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Acceleration Programme foe Regional Corridor development.
“This strategic project will see Zimbabwe exploiting our central geographical location within the Sadc region to become a regional logistic hub,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President directed that this year’s target be increased to 200kms to accelerate the completion of the project.
He said Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has also provided funding to meet the required target as he challenged contractors to take advantage of the reduced traffic along the highway to increase momentum.
The President said the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of the Beitbridge border post will further complement works on the highway for smooth and more efficient traffic.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joel Biggie Matiza said the contractors were on course to achieve the phase one target. He said more local companies have stepped forward for infrastructural development projects and his ministry intends to use the same model for other national projects in the country.
Matabeleland South Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Abednico Ncube welcomed the development saying infrastructural development is a key enabler to unlocking economic growth and increasing competitiveness and productivity.
He called on the Government to attend to other outstanding infrastructural projects in the province.