Local contractors engaged for Zim main highway

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By Charity Ruzvidzo

After years of bureaucratic haggling and engagement of shoddy international players, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Joel Biggie Matiza, says Government will soon pool together local contractors to start work on the country’s major highway- the Beitbridge/Chirundu highway.

The Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway connects Zimbabwe with South Africa and Zambian and is a major connecting route into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

Addressing journalists at a press briefing this week, Matiza said the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road dualisation project was key to regional and trade facilitation.

“The Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road Dualisation Project, being part of the North-South Corridor, is key to regional development and trade facilitation. Government intends to conclude negotiations on this project as soon as possible. It is paramount to note that delays in these negotiations will prompt Government to engage locally.

“As Minister, I have started engagement with various stakeholders, including the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, CMED and Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA). I believe as a country, we can implement this project through our own resources and manpower. In the meantime, as agreed in Cabinet, my ministry will maintain Government’s Terms of Reference as published in the initial bidding process. These address our challenges and carry us forward. It is critical at this juncture, that Government continues to engage the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for the development of such infrastructure,” said Matiza.

The minister said the transport sector remained key in developing the country’s economy.

“I would like to advise the nation that ZINARA has not been spared on the issues to do with corruption and white-collar crime. I have assigned my deputy minister to investigate the entity, including issues of abuse of office,” he said.

Another entity that the minister said needed urgent intervention was the country’s national airline, Air Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd, which has been struggling with legacy debt, dilapidated aircraft, equipment fleet, and lack of adequate aircraft mix among others.

Matiza said in an effort to resuscitate the airline, Government intended to merge Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways, another public entity, to complement one another.

He said smaller aircraft will service domestic routes, A320s will be for regional routes and the B777 will service the international routes.

Matiza said Government was geared towards promoting regional integration through provision of world class infrastructure.

He said despite being a landlocked country, Zimbabwe remained one of the most transited countries in the SADC region.

“Zimbabwe is part of both Beira and North-South Development corridors. When fully implemented, these corridors will assist in developing a coordinated approach among SADC member states in the implementation of infrastructure in the region. In the same vein, Government of Zimbabwe, through my ministry will continue engaging other countries in the provision of adequate infrastructure and services in support of trade facilitation,” he said.

The minister said there was a need to increase facilitation for the ease in movement of goods and people across the region.

“My ministry is also part of the committee that has been tasked with the ease of doing business initiative. The aim is to increase facilitation for the ease in the movement of goods and people. In this regard, I will be working closely with my counterparts and colleagues in the various institutions in the development of our border posts, starting with Beitbridge.

“Under the SADC Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Acceleration Programme, Beitbridge Border Post has been prioritised as one of the key projects for regional integration. My ministry, stakeholders, and SADC Secretariat are working on the project to address some of the challenges at the border post,” he said.

In 2016, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a railway line.

The railway line is expected to link Francistown in Botswana, Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and the Mozambican port of Techobanine to facilitate regional trade.

Matiza said there were strategies in place to ensure the project kicks off.

“The projects to connect various countries across the region through railway are still in place. There is going to be a SADC transport inter-ministerial conference aimed at finalising regional protocol so that we can implement the project,” he said.

He also added that Government was finalising negotiations with DIDG/Transnet consortium, an arrangement meant to recapitalise the National Railways of Zimbabwe and bring life to the rail sector.

 

 

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