$1bln Zimbabwe Road Rehabilitation project Launched



Reported by Peter Banda in Harare
Project Management Zimbabwe

21 June 2017 – Harare, Zimbabwe – Works on the US$1billion rehabilitation and dualisation of the 580 km Beitbridge-Harare Road has started. Zimbabwe President His Excellency Robert Mugabe officially commissioned the start of the project at the beginning of May 2017 with a ground breaking ceremony that was attended by key stakeholders from the public and private sector. Work on the Beitbridge-Harare Rd is a sub-project and phase 1 of the major project to rehabilitate the entire Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road (see map image below) which has an estimated total project cost of $2,3billion according to reports from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.

The Zimbabwe government has awarded the tender for the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) project to Austrian contractor Geiger International and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and agreements were signed in November 2016.

The project is expected to take up to three years and will be carried out in two phases. The first section will be from Beitbridge to Harare, which will be done under a Public Private Partnership/ Build Operate and Transfer model. The second phase covering Harare-Chirundu section will be done through a loan facility.

The Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway is Zimbabwe’s busiest and most economically significant, and is part of the North-South Corridor that directly links landlocked Zimbabwe and Zambia with access to the Indian Ocean ports of Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa.

Speaking at the May 2017 ground breaking ceremony, Zimbabwe Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said Government signed a memorandum of understanding for the contract with Geiger International (GI) in 2012 but the absence of a legal framework until 2016 delayed the deal.

This is despite the deal being officially announced in June last year, when Government named GI and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) as the tender winners for the Harare-Beitbridge and Harare-Chirundu roads. GI Vice-President Eric Geiger said the negotiations for the deal had taken six years, ‘punctuated by tenders and legal issues.’

“Geiger International has mobilised resources for the design and construction of the road and will be responsible for collecting and maintaining the toll plazas during the concession period, through a company in which Government will have shares,” said Geiger.

“Proceeds from toll operations will be used to meet operating costs, loan repayments, interest, dividend payments to investors, and shareholders including the government. At the end of the concession period, Geiger will hand over the road to government, which would have to be responsible for its maintenance.”

Actual work on the road will start after three months if the designs are approved, he said.

Local companies will participate in the construction project to the tune of 40 percent of contract value. Geiger said the government had guaranteed the safety of its investment. The road was the beginning of more business deals with government, with more to follow, he added.

Gumbo said more toll plazas will be added on the route as Geiger seeks to recoup their investment.

The Beitbridge highway has been in use for over 56 years, way beyond its design life of 20 years. Efforts to rehabilitate the highway, whose state of disrepair has cost many lives in traffic accidents, have been held back by claims of corruption and bribery. Government initially awarded the contract to ZimHighways, a consortium of 14 firms that included Murray & Roberts, Costain Africa, Kuchi Building Construction, Tarcon, Bitcon, Joina Development Company and Southland Engineers back in 2003. However, the project never took off as bickering erupted between the government and the consortium. Government accused the contractors of failing to put up the money for the project, while ZimHighways accused government officials of demanding bribes.

In 2013, after government announced plans to hand the project to a new contractor, citing ZimHighways’ failure to start the project, the consortium took the government to court. It only dropped its lawsuit in 2015, on condition that the consortium members would be sub-contracted for the project, allowing government to float a new tender.

Project Management Zimbabwe (PMZ – Project Management Institute of Zimbabwe) is Zimbabwe’s largest Association of Project Managers, with a membership base of over 1000. The institute has a mandate of policing the elevation of project management standards nationally through mentorship, membership services and programmes. For information, visit http://www.pmiz.org.zw/ or email: [email protected].

Source: Project Management Zimbabwe