Chinese firm Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co Limited (AFECC) could clinch the $3 billion contract to resurface the long-awaited Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, NewsDay has learned.
Top AFECC officials, funders of the dualisation project, which was now estimated to gobble several billions of dollars, are expected in Harare this week to finalise the deal with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to kick-start construction.
This came three months after government cancelled Austrian firm Geiger International’s contract citing the company’s failure to begin the project two years after winning the tender.
Transport minister Joram Gumbo told NewsDay on Thursday that negotiations were at the tail-end to award AFECC the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway contract.
“The negotiations are ongoing right now. We are now negotiating. They (AFECC) are busy talking to their funders. We had a meeting last week, so negotiations are going well. They have told us where they are right now, which I cannot disclose and told us what they are doing and we think they can be able to clinch a deal, but it is not yet done. We expect to meet with them, but, unfortunately, it can only be next week …,” he said.
Government back in 2015 invited tenders for the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, where Geiger International eventually won the $984 million tender on a buy private-public-partnership basis.
However, two years on, Geiger failed to fulfil its part of the deal even after government invoked a clause giving them a 180-day and later a 60-day ultimatum, revoked the tender and began negotiations with AFECC.
“We have done the best we can. We have waited for two years for them to do the work and they have failed. We have given them 180 days, we gave them another 60 days and they failed to produce proof of funds. So how can anyone blame us?” Gumbo queried.
“This is an important route for the northern-southern corridor, not only for Zimbabwe, but southern and central Africa. We have done the best we can. We have advertised, awarded and waited for two years.”
The minister said Geiger was the lowest bidder compared to three companies, which was why they were awarded the tender.
AFECC is a large-scale multi-operational enterprise mainly engaged in international projects contracting, overseas mineral resources development, real estate development, jewelry processing, operation of supermarket and star hotel chains, building material processing and spa resorts, among others.