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Bulawayo - Beitbridge highway rehabilitation not anytime soon

by Staff reporter
01 Nov 2022 at 05:10hrs | Views
FULL rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway will only start after the completion of the ongoing upgrade of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, a Government official said yesterday.

Rehabilitation and upgrading of the country's road network is among key National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) projects.

The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway connects Zimbabwe to South Africa and Zambia and passes through Beitbridge Border Post, which is Sadc's busiest inland port.

Government engaged a South African firm, Khato Civils, to rehabilitate the highway under the build, operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement in 2019 but later cancelled the deal after the company delayed to implement the project.

The highway is now littered with dangerous potholes that are making driving very difficult, especially at night.

The potholes are very deep and in some sections of the highway they cover the entire width of the road making driving a nightmare for motorists.

The highway is now a death trap on the section before Matetsi River bridge as the section is littered with potholes.

 The road is also very bad between St Luke's in Lupane and Bulawayo as the potholes on this stretch of the highway are now very deep.

Last week a haulage truck fell into a river near Dinson Colliery Coke plant in Hwange town after the truck hit potholes on the bridge and the driver lost control.

 Government has availed $33 billion to fund the Emergency Roads Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP2) after it declared the country's roads a state of disaster.

Motorists are concerned about the state of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway and have appealed to Government to urgently rehabilitate the road.

In an interview, Transport and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary Engineer Theodius Chinyanga said Government will patch the potholes but the permanent solution will be the full rehabilitation of the road.

"We have to patch the potholes to ensure that they don't cause any danger to the motoring public but the bigger plan is to upgrade the road the same way we are doing on the Beitbridge-Harare Highway. We would have wanted to start as soon as yesterday but we are constrained by resources. We can't do two major road projects both funded by Government at the same time hence the decision to complete Beitbridge- Harare-Chirundu Highway first and thereafter work on Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway," said Eng Chinyanga.

Government engaged five construction companies to rehabilitate the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road and Eng Chinyanga said the Beitbridge-Harare stretch will be completed in July next year while the remaining part to Chirundu will take a year to complete.

"We look forward to finishing the Beitbridge-Harare by July next year and the whole project by mid 2024," said Eng Chinyanga.

He said Government was getting inquiries from potential contractors who are proposing to come in with their own funding but nothing tangible had been agreed upon.

"If we agree on terms we might start earlier but if we are funded by Government we will finish phase one first," added Eng Chinyanga.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube recently told a conference in Victoria Falls that Government was inviting willing and capable investors to partner it in the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and the Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane roads.

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) has said it is also concerned about the state of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway.

TSCZ managing director Mr Munesu Munodawafa said he hoped the road will be attended to soon.

"I am aware there are areas Government has not been able cover yet especially around Hwange town but the Ministry of Transport has said it is prioritising repairs to this highway," he said.

Source - The Chronicle