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Major Matabeleland roads under reconstruction

by Staff reporter
19 May 2019 at 08:13hrs | Views
THE multi-million dollar road infrastructure development programme undertaken by the Government has moved a gear up with work on the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road now underway, among other roads in the Matabeleland region, senior Government officials have confirmed.

Some of the targeted roads in Matabeleland include provincial roads such as Gwanda-Maphisa, Maphisa-Mpoengs, Gwanda-Guyu-Manama-Tuli, Ingwingwisi Bridge, Dete-Binga and Binga-Karoi road.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Eng Joel Biggie Matiza said the Bulawayo-Nkayi and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho roads were two major projects that have seen so many false kick-offs, much stalling, controversy and a haze of corruption around them falling under the US$250 million availed by Treasury out of a total US$5 billion required to put the country's road network in shape.

He said work on the ground points to a serious intention by the Second Republic to re-establish the trafficability of most of the country's roads. Although the minister could not give the finer details of the projects in terms of the total cash breakdown for each project and the timelines of the projects, he confirmed that they hav.e kicked off.

"Through the fiscus, an amount of US$252 million has already been availed to the department of roads for the roads development programme, targeting to re-establish a proper road network in the country to enhance movement of people, goods and services.

"The Bulawayo-Tsholotsho and Bulawayo-Nkayi Roads are among the projects that benefited from the money released by Treasury and I am sure work is already underway. It's unfortunate I am currently out of the country but yes, work has started and we are going to make sure the projects are completed," said Minister Matiza in a telephone interview.

He added, " . . . that the President (Mnangagwa) has been talking about the roads means he is prepared to see the two projects' completion as soon as possible and we will make sure we deliver."

Matabeleland North Provincial Minister Richard Moyo also confirmed that work on the two major roads in his province had started.

"The Government has released money for the two roads in the province. We are excited about the development. Work has started now and we hope that they will be complete in the scheduled time. The roads were now too bad and dangerous. We will soon ground break for the official commencement of the projects," said Moyo.

Information contained in the country's economic turn-around strategy document — the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) indicates that the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank studies estimate that US$5,5 billion is needed to rehabilitate the country's entire road network.

According to the document, work on the roads has already begun and major projects include dualisation of Mutare-Harare-Gweru-Bulawayo Road as well as the much talked about Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway where a new contractor from China is being engaged after the failure by Geiger International to achieve financial close.

"A new contractor from China, is being engaged for the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge and Harare-Chirundu highways after failure by Geiger International to achieve financial close. Meanwhile, implementation of works for the improvement of steep gradients around the Makuti Escapement on the Makuti-Chirundu section will benefit from the US$21 million grant extended by Japan. This should reduce the final cost of rehabilitating the Harare-Chirundu section of the North-South corridor," reads part of the programme.

Minister Matiza said Government had been rehabilitating roads and bridges destroyed by Cyclone Dineo in 2017 through the emergency road fund, while new and old projects were being fast-tracked under the auspices of the department of roads where recovery of wash-aways on major bridges was also part of the targeted objective.

On the dualisation of the Mutare-Harare-Gweru-Bulawayo, a phased approach is going to be used with the Harare-Marondera and Harare-Selous portions in progress. The project is wholly funded by Treasury and a survey team is on the ground and it is hoped by the end of the year, Government would have designs of up to Chegutu for a higher standard road which is very durable with asphalt overlay.

According to the TSP, a comprehensive roads development programme with support from the fiscus, and targeting upgrades from gravel to bituminous surfacing is already underway at an average cost of US$500 000 per kilometre. The targeted roads, being implemented under the department of roads provincial road engineers in each province are estimated to cost US$542 million.

"With regards to DDF, Treasury has already disbursed US$11,2 million towards re-gravelling of feeder roads and bridge construction countrywide, with an additional US$15 million being targeted for 2019. In addition, IDBZ has been involved in the monitoring of the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme by Government that covered eight provinces where it facilitated the disbursement of US$24,1 million. Some of the roads monitored include the Harare-Mutare Road dualisation (5,5km), Goromonzi Turnoff-Tollgate, Bindura-Shamva (4,4km), Harare-Bulawayo Road dualisation (9km), and Norton Turnoff-Tollgate.

"In collaboration with relevant authorities, IDBZ is planning to get involved in the preparation and construction of the Chitungwiza-Harare Rail link and play an advisory role on the expansion of Harare-Nyamapanda, Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Mutare-Christmas Pass, Kwekwe-Silobela-Nkayi-Lupane and the New Victoria Falls Bridge project," reads the TSP.

The 60 RDCs would receive US$32,5 million for grading and re-gravelling of rural roads. The Department of Roads and DDF will receive US$40 million and US$25 million respectively, for routine and periodic maintenance as well as bridge repairs. Support would also be made to DDF for procurement of road equipment amounting to US$8,3 million.

The Government is also planning to upgrade the R G Mugabe International Airport at a cost of US$153 million which entails upgrading of the runway, construction of new terminal building, additional four aero-bridges, and communication system, among others. Furthermore, procurement of five weather radar systems, to be networked around the country, at a cost of about US$6,5 million would be prioritised as part of the country's phased approach to better the country's road network system.

Source - sundaynews