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$150m required for the overhaul of Zimbabwe highway

The Transport and Infrastructure Development minister, Joel Biggie Matiza, confirmed that the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) has allocated $150m for the full refurbishment of the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway, although $40m has already been disbursed for the construction of the road in accordance with the 2019 Infrastructure Plan. A total of $300m will be allocated to the project during 2019 with the total cost of the project estimated at $1.2 billion.

Mr. Matiza announced that the rehabilitation of the 900km highway is due to commence at the beginning of March and is expected to be completed within 3.5 years. The minister confirmed that “As of now, detours are being constructed to pave way for the actual road. We are going to open the detour roads to enable us to work on the highway”.

The highway is one of the busiest in Southern Africa that links South Africa and other countries in the region. Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway facilitates regional trade and the movement of million of people across Africa.

Joel Biggie Matiza, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development

The rehabilitation and dualisation of the highway are one of the major infrastructure development projects currently underway in Zimbabwe and will use local resources for the construction although the project is open to foreign organisations to tender in the overhaul of the highway.

It is understood that the rehabilitation of the road through Public Private Partnerships have remained an enormous challenge for the Government. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development have confirmed the need to switch to financing from the domestic market.

“I am here to monitor progress. As the President enunciated, I want to make sure the project finishes on time”

The project is expected to be completed in two phases, with rehabilitation of the highway completed initially followed by the dualization in the second phase. It is understood that the road will only be dualised 10km before the town and 10km after the town and not the whole 900km.

Although funding has been allocated for the project there are growing concerns that the traffic volumes on the highway are not sufficient enough for the recovery of costs for the project once the road has been completely dualized. It is understood that 6000 vehicles would be needed daily to pass though the highway with seven toll gates in place charging a fee to recover the costs. It was therefore concluded that the highway will be widened inmost parts as apposed to creating a two-lane highway.

During #ARIIC2019, we will examine alternative funding for road and other critical infrastructure projects across sub-Saharan Africa.

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