Prosper Ndlovu Business Editor
WORK on the rehabilitation of the 820km Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare Highway is 98 percent complete with the project set for commissioning next month, Zinara board chairman Albert Mugabe has said.
The project is being carried out by Infralink, a joint venture between Zinara and Group Five International of South Africa using a $206 million loan secured from the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
Yesterday, Mugabe said the contractor was putting final touches to the project paving way for its handover to the government. “The project is 98 percent complete save for a few challenges here and there. This is not a brand new construction but we’re working on an existing road. As a result there are tests that we do to determine certain visible defects.
“The contractor is attending to these defects so that they come up with a clean road that will be handed over to the government,” said Mugabe.
“What I can say is the project is coming to an end and we anticipate that by end of May we should be done with all the processes and the government can commission the project.”
Zinara has 70 percent shareholding in the Infralink joint venture while Group Five International owns 30 percent. The road rehabilitation project also includes the construction of toll plazas.
The project has created jobs for scores of people along the communities where upgrading was being done with several local firms subcontracted for various services.
Among the contracted companies were Madzimbabwe (surface preparations in Bulawayo, Gweru Kadoma and Chegutu), JR Goddard – (Gweru North Toll Plazas, installation of signs and painting and repairing bridge parapet and head walls), Traffic Solutions – (road line markings), Auto Solutions (road line markings) and Le Nash/Ultimate Solutions (Harare to Shangani Road Signs).
Mugabe said there was a possibility Group Five could be engaged for other highway upgrade exercises across the country with Zinara satisfied with the work that has been done so far.
On concerns that Zinara was slow to attend to dilapidated road infrastructure in areas such as Nkayi, Tsholotsho and Kezi, Mugabe said the major challenge was funding.
“All the money we collect from roads is going back to the roads. The dilemma is that the amount required by roads exceeds by far what is collected.
“The fact that we collect about $200 million per year explains why not enough is being done on our roads,” he said.