Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Old Gwanda Road project begins

by Staff reporter
20 Jun 2023 at 06:50hrs | Views
PRELIMINARY works have started ahead of the construction of the US$150 million 120km Old Gwanda Road with engineers and surveyors on the ground conducting the feasibility study which is expected to be completed in three weeks.

The completion of the feasibility study and road mapping is expected to mark the start of road construction.

Old Gwanda Road has traditionally been a gravel road and is in bad shape resulting in motorists shunning it with those using it complaining that it leads to vehicle breakdowns.

Government recently granted Zwane Investments the green light to start the construction of Old Gwanda Road under a build, operate and transfer model.

The company intends to set up two toll gates along the road.

The company has adopted the Government model of contracting several companies to construct the road, with six contractors having been engaged in the construction project, whose completion target is year end.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday observed surveyors who were working on the road.

They revealed that they started work on Friday.

Miss Nyaradzo Machiwana who was leading a team of surveyors said the work they were undertaking marks the start of the road construction project.

"We started on Friday, that is when we set up all our tools to start working and technically it's called calibration. On Saturday, we started the real work and we will be covering a 40km stretch. Right now, we are setting up control and at every 300m we are setting up what are called benchmarks so these nails that you see are marking the centre line," said Miss Machiwana

"This is important, it is called control, this is where the road passes by. You just can't grade and say the road is going to pass here but this is a blueprint, a compass that the engineers will be using in designing the road. We are hoping to do this within three weeks. And the message is that the Old Gwanda Road construction has begun and these are the first stages."

She said the process includes identifying the significant objects closer to the road like electricity poles among other features.

Miss Machiwana said the scope of works covers 50 metres from the radius of the road to enable construction teams to navigate easily.

Zwane Investments chief executive officer Engineer Bekithemba Mbambo said it is pleasing that works have started almost 16 months after they started applications to the project.

"It's a huge joy that we have come so far but for us the actual joy will come when we start constructing the road. We will have six contractors working on the road. The problem with having one contractor is that when that contractor lets you down, you cannot move. But when you have several, they cannot let you down at the same time," said Eng Mbambo.

He said his company decided to embark on the reconstruction of the road as it believes it will be economically viable.

"In our view it will be very economic because we are looking at the traffic which is no longer using that road because of the state of the road. We are hoping that once the road is complete a lot of people use that road," said Eng Mbambo.

"We are also considering that people may consider a newer road that an old one. There are mines and we will share traffic with the existing Gwanda highway. In terms of economic viability, I think it will be viable; there is also tourism."

He said in some parts of Matopo there are communities who commute daily to sell horticulture produce hence the road will be important in connecting farmers to their markets.

Eng Mbambo said the road will be a single lane considering that it will be competing with Gwanda Road which passes through Esigodini.

He said the company will have to deal with complexities such as construction of a huge bridge near Mtshabezi and how the road will pass through Matopo High School.

"In the short stretch leading to Matopo High School, the current road goes between the school and the boys' dormitories. It is not ideal for pupils to be crossing the highway every day. We were thinking of deviating from it. So, to deviate it will mean it will move behind the school but that is a wetland area. Basically, in that small area we are stuck between a rock and a rock," he said.

"We will either do an over-hill bridge for them to cross. We need a very good sound proof because the road will be very close to classrooms."

Eng Mbambo said between Sikithi and Dula there is hardly a road to talk about as it passes through rocky mountainous areas hence they have to realign the road altogether.

He said the realignment of the road will determine the number of families that will be affected by the road construction project.

Source - The Chronicle
More on: #Gwanda, #Road, #Rehab