Seamless progress is taking place in the construction of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, with Phase One close to completion after local companies that have been contracted to work on the road delivered the goods.
Phase Two, which entails more work, is expected to commence in February next year in line with targeted timelines for the project to be concluded at the end of 2022.
The second phase is expected to create close to 2000 jobs as the project continues to make a seminal impact on the economy.
For two decades, refurbishment of the highway failed to take off as a number of foreign companies that were contracted to rehabilitate the road repeatedly failed to do so.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joel Biggie Matiza said so far, US$150 million had been spent on rehabilitation of the highway.
“The project is moving on fine. We have had some little delays due to the rains but generally, we are on schedule and tentatively we expect to have finished by the end of 2022.
“Under Phase One, we have already spent about US$150 million, with US$600 million budgeted for the whole project. In terms of employment creation, the project has made a very huge impact. From each province that the road traverses, there is huge employment, especially for the youths. I do not have the exact figures but we are talking about something like 1800 or so jobs.”
Dr Matiza said the decision to work with local contractors was justified as the country had been able to save foreign currency.
“In all the years that we worked with foreign companies, the project never started. But with local companies, we finally managed to start. Using local companies also creates local employment, it has got advantages associated with labour costs. Where we ordinarily use a foreign company there is more forex going out but by using local companies we have saved about 60 percent of forex.”
In his closing remarks to mark the end of Cabinet meetings for 2020, President Mnangagwa said:
“The country has made huge strides in the rehabilitation and upgrading of infrastructure, especially on the Harare-Beitbridge road. The rehabilitation of the road is being funded from local resources and by local companies.
‘‘The road is of strategic importance to Zimbabwe and the region serving as a crucial enabler for trade and development.”
Under Phase One, the Beitbridge stretch was contracted to five local companies, with each company allocated at least 20km each as the road is being widened from the current 7 metres to 12, 5 metres.
The Beitbridge-Harare road had become a death trap as it had exceeded its design life of 20 years by 40 years. The road is being rehabilitated and upgraded in line with Southern Africa Transport and Communication Commissions (SATCC) standards.
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