DUALISATION EQUIPMENT STUCK IN ZAMBIA | Some of the equipment to be used in the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare Highway is stuck in Zambia as the contractor is waiting for Government to gazette a Statutory Instrument that will enable it to bring in the machinery duty-free, The Herald can reveal.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo yesterday said the $1 billion dollar project was being delayed by “administrative issues which were being ironed out.”Geiger International of Australia is carrying out the project under a 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) model. “There are conditions preceding and delays are administrative on the part of Government,” Dr Gumbo said.
“Some of their equipment is in Zambia and cannot come into the country because there has to be a Statutory Instrument which allows them to bring that machinery duty-free. While some of the equipment is in Zambia where they have carried out successful projects, some of it is coming from China. The Ministry of Finance is working on the issue of the Statutory Instrument and we hope soon there will be headway. The issue of company registration was also another issue.”
He added: “All that said, they are working according to their gantt chart, following their programme. They have said they would begin actual construction end of September or beginning of October and it is my hope that those issues would have been sorted by then. They are following Zimbabwean laws. They are on schedule and have kept their promise.”
The project was granted national project meaning it should get preferential treatment including exemptions from paying import duty and other taxes. Dr Gumbo said preliminary works were being carried out. “Engineers and surveyors are on the ground doing preliminary works that need to be done before commencement of construction,” he said
“Camps are being set up and they have ironed out issues with local authorities of Chivhu and Masvingo with regards to the course the road will take. They are at the moment looking for an independent engineer who will monitor their work.”
He said some people would be displaced and compensated. “It is always the case that whenever such a big road is being constructed, some people will be displaced or farms will be destroyed,” Dr Gumbo said.
“Affected parties will claim compensation and they have to be compensated. Government will be involved through the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. There will be consultations and everything will be addressed.”
Government has negotiated that 40 percent of the dualisation project benefits locals as part of empowering indigenous people. Dr Gumbo dismissed reports that Geiger International had reneged on the commitment to promote local people.
“There is nothing like that,” he said. “They will advertise what kind of services they need. We negotiated and 40 percent of the project is reserved for locals, nothing will change.” The Beitbridge-Harare dualisation project fits into the Zim-Asset infrastructure and utilities cluster and is expected to stimulate economic development.
Thousands of jobs will be created, with skilled and non-skilled personnel being hired, while there would be business opportunities for local firms and citizens.
The dualisation of the highway is expected to reduce carnage and increase the flow of goods and tourists in and outside the country. The project will be done in phases and the first phase includes the Beitbridge-Harare Highway.
The second phase will cover the Harare-Chirundu stretch.