THE expansion of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway has been stalled by a court case involving the contractor, a senior official in the Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry said last week.
Munesushe Munodawafa, permanent secretary in the ministry told captains of industry during the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress in Mutare on Friday that the commercial dispute pits the ministry and Zimbabwe Highways, a consortium that had been tasked with the work.
“Zimbabwe Highway (Pvt) Ltd is a consortium of construction companies. Initially all the big construction companies you will think of in Zimbabwe were part of the consortium, but that was in 2005,” he said.
He said after some companies pulled out, the ministry doubted the capability of the consortium in doing the job.
“We then had questions on the technical abilities of the remaining companies because some of the big companies had pulled out and again seven years’ waiting for money and saying give us two more months to get the money sounded a bit unfair as far as the government was concerned,” Munodawafa said.
He added that some contractors tried to come on board and do the construction, but were barred by court proceedings.
“There was an investor who came from China, but is of European origin and they had money which they were offering to do the project 3% interest all inclusive of charges, five-year grace period repayable over 15 years. To me that was a very good deal,” Munodawafa said.
“They were going to take 40% of the contractors as a company and that is where they were going to make their money.
“They had pledged that 60% of the contract would go to indigenous companies. The plan was to do the road in a three-year period.”
The Harare-Beitbridge Road has been a “highway to death” due to the increase in the number of accidents on the narrow but busy road.
Recently, 18 people perished when a Beitbridge-bound bus they were travelling in was involved in a head-on collision with a truck at the 206km peg along the Masvingo-Beitbridge Road.
Munodawafa said the ministry required about $11 billion to rehabilitate the country’s roads, totalling 85 208km.