Zimbabwe needs $4 bn to rehabilitate road network- Government report

THE cost of repairing the country’s road network is expected to balloon to over $4,2 billion by the end of the year from the $2,7 billion last recorded in 2009, as the infrastructure deficit widens, piling pressure on Treasury, a government report has projected.

Report by Victoria Mtomba

According to a Trade and Transport Facilitation Assessment commissioned by the Regional Integration and International Co-operation ministry and the World Bank in 2012, the cost of business in Zimbabwe could be reduced should government invest in maintaining and expanding rail and road network.

Zimbabwe according to the report, which was launched yesterday, should rehabilitate its transport infrastructure to improve trade facilitation and reduce transport costs amid indications that the cost of repairing the country’s transport infrastructure could have nearly doubled during the decade-long economic crisis.

The report shows that the cost of rehabilitating the country’s road network has been going up at a rate of 12,3% per year since 2006. In 2009, the figure had risen to $2,7 billion, implying that at this same escalation rate, the country will require over $4,293 billion by yearend.

“The African Development Bank estimated the cost of rehabilitating Zimbabwe’s roads at $2,7 billion in 2009. An earlier study by the World Bank in 2006 had estimated the cost at $1,7 billion meaning that the rehabilitation costs are increasing at a rate of about 12,3% per year,” the report reads.

“The escalation in costs is attributed to a combination of factors, including domestic inflation and currency appreciation, limited capacities within the construction industry relative demand, the increase in the international oil price and the knock-on effect on diesel prices.”

Speaking at the launch of the report, Medicine Masiiwa, a consultant engaged in drafting the report, said the poor state of Zimbabwe’s road and rail network is impeding the free flow of goods and services.

“Only about 29% of the rail is still in good condition and National Railways of Zimbabwe is facing serious shortages of locomotives, wagons and coaches.

The deteriorating transport infrastructure means that transport costs are high because the economic distances are longer than the actual physical distances and transporters pay higher prices for vehicle repairs,” Masiiwa said.

He said there was need for government to undertake a short-term strategy that includes the repair of regional corridors that include Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu, Mutare-Harare, Harare-Bulawayo-Beitbridge, Harare-Nyamapanda, as they are crucial in moving trade goods across the region and should be accorded highest priority. Regional Integration permanent secretary Tedious Chifamba said the country now has new players across the board and there was need to see how the new players could be assisted to become international players.

Chifamba said: “It’s obvious we have to visit our roads on the Harare-Beitbridge route. We need to do a lot of work in terms of Beitbridge and we want it to become a one-stop-shop. We have all that it takes — human capital, we have infrastructure and resources and the potential is there.”

World Bank country manager Nginya Mungai Lenneiye said the report would help Zimbabwe look at broader management and transit corridors.

“This work should help Zimbabwe where its logistics are weak and see how the country can work with the international community to develop the economy,” he added.

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