HomeNewsControversy over ZimHighways

Controversy over ZimHighways


CONTROVERSY surrounds the government decision to dump the initial build-operate-transfer (BOT) system with ZimHighways for the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge Road that has been on the cards for nearly 10 years.

Report by Mernat Mafirakurewa

In 2002 the government floated a tender for the dualisation of the highway in which ZimHighways, a consortium of local contractors, won the tender.

Under the tender, the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge Road was set to be undertaken through a BOT system with ZimHighways as the lead contractor.

Protracted discussions on the way forward have since been blamed for the delays in implementing the national project.

However, correspondence seen by NewsDay this week, shows that the Transport, Communication and Infrastructure Development ministry is no longer interested in the BOT arrangement amid fears of underhand dealings.

“Given the fact that funding for the project has been secured, ZimHighways continued search for funding is baffling. In any case ZimHighways has had years in which to secure funding. Frantic efforts to this end are now in our view, futile and of no consequence,” reads a letter by former Transport secretary Partson Mbiriri.

“Accordingly, ZimHighways would be well advised to accept the facts and new reality instead of seeking to challenge or ignore some.”

ZimHighways cannot continue to refer or raise the issue of a concession agreement. Please accept that ZimHighways had obligations in respect of the 2002 process such as securing funding which ZimHighways was unable to fulfill. That alone certainly took the project outside the parameters of the 2002 tender – please note.”

Zimbabwe’s sovereign debt at $10,7 billion has put a huge strain on the government’s ability to finance key social and economic projects.

Sources said it was, however, unlikely that Treasury would approve any form of sovereign debt given the impact of the debt the country already has.

The disharmony in the inclusive government over the project has also not helped things.

Mbiriri indicated that as the project now revolved around a sovereign debt, the issue of concession fell away.

“Given the fundamental reality that the project shall now be financed through a sovereign debt, the envisaged special purpose vehicle shall be in the public domain. The government shall not borrow the money for the project to on-lend or pass it on to ZimHighways to make money through a concession,” Mbiriri added.

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