THE dualisation of the $1,3 billion Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway is expected to start before the end of the first quarter of this year after government took over the project.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu said this yesterday while addressing the boards of the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe National Roads Administration in separate meetings.
Minister Mpofu said the decision had been made following a meeting he had with Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa recently.
“I had a meeting with Minister Chinamasa where we’re targeting some major projects this month especially the Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu highways and the ring road (Harare Drive).
“Plans are at an advanced stage and this would be done by government instead of the Build-Operate- Transfer or Private Public Partnerships. We’re coming up with a plan in which government will lead the project,” Minister Mpofu said during his meeting with the TSCZ.
He later told the Zinara board that the dualisation was expected to start by end of February at the earliest or end of the first quarter at the latest.
“I had a meeting with Minister Chinamasa and we have agreed that this programme has to start as soon as possible, possibly before the end of next month or the end of the first quarter,” he said.
Minister Mpofu could, however, not divulge further details on the project saying they would be announced in due course.
Former Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister Petronella Kagonye, last year said the highway had outlived its design life twice over as it was designed to last 20 years but had been in use for over 55 years.
The dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway is expected to cost at least $1,3 billion but was stalled due to a court challenge by Zim Highways Consortium, a grouping of local firms that had initially been awarded the tender in 2002 but allegedly failed to raise the required capital.
This resulted in the withdrawal of the tender and in turn the consortium approached the courts for relief.
However, the dispute between government and the consortium was resolved last year with Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Munesu Munodawafa, saying the project was expected to proceed.
The rehabilitation and dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highways has been cited as one of the major projects under government’s Zim-Asset economic turnaround blueprint.
The highway has recorded a lot of accidents due to the huge volumes of traffic and dualisation has been identified as a long-term solution to the problem.
Meanwhile, Minister Mpofu gave Zinara a revenue target of $220 million this year, up from last year’s $132 million as government moves to increase inflows to rehabilitate the country’s roads.
Zinara is currently reconciling its revenue collections for 2014 although officials said they expected to surpass the target.
The Minister later toured the Airport Road construction to check on progress following Zinara’s takeover of the project last year from Augur Investment.