The much-awaited $240 million Beitbridge Border Post upgrade has commenced, with work on several fronts, including the rebuilding of a State warehouse burnt under mysterious circumstances almost five years ago, taking shape.

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Construction of a Vehicle Inspection Depot 5km from the border post at the junction of Harare and Bulawayo highways is also progressing, while surfacing of the Customs and Excise yard is ongoing.

Zimborders, a consortium of companies including Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Raubex and LA Frontiere Group, who won the tender to upgrade the border post, have posted signage around the warehouse under reconstruction.

“We are going to start rebuilding the State warehouse. As you can see, we are removing old bricks from the burnt building,” a worker on the site said.

Government in July launched the project following the signing of a $240m contract for the expansion of the border infrastructure, which is part of an ongoing push to turn Southern Africa’s busiest inland border post into a one-stop crossing port.

President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony of the project, expected to total $170m in costs, later coming to $240m, including transaction costs.

The border post will be run as a public-private-partnership between the government of Zimbabwe and Zimborders under a 17-year concession.

Beitbridge Town is set to benefit from the project, whose contract includes a major upgrade of roads to and from the border post, perimeter fencing and gate control infrastructure, parking areas, a commercial centre, staff accommodation, upgrading of communications, security and lighting systems, as well as the construction of new buildings and terminals.

“Additional non-core works to improve the town’s critical infrastructure will also be included, such as sewer ponds and storage dumps,” part of the contract seen by the Southern Eye, reads.

A source from the company, which has kept its progress under wraps, said there would be no construction of another bridge as was widely expected.

During peak periods, the bridge, more often than not, is overwhelmed by traffic.

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