EXPANSION of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway has been stalled by a court case involving the contractor, a senior official in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development said last week.
Secretary for Transport and Infrastructural Development Munesushe Munodawafa told captains of industry during the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress in Mutare on Friday that the commercial dispute pits the ministry and Zimbabwe Highways, a consortium that had been given the job.
Munodawafa said the project stalled after government expressed doubt over the capacity of the contractor after several other members of the consortium had pulled out.
This, he said, prompted Zimbabwe Highways (Private) Limited to take government to court and the matter was still pending.
“We had questions on the technical aspect of the remaining companies because some of the big companies had pulled out and again seven years waiting for money and say give us two more months to get the money sounded a bit unfair as far as government was concerned,” Munodawafa said.
He added that some Chinese contractors had offered to come on board and complete the project at a lower cost, but could not be awarded the project because of the court challenge.
“To me, that was a very good deal. They were going to take 40% of the contractors as a company and that is where they were going to make their money. They had pledged that 60% of the contract was going to be given to indigenous companies. The plan was to do the road in three years period.”
The Harare-Beitbridge Road has been in a poor state for a long time despite being a major business link road.
Munodawafa also defended the prioritisation of the Plumtree-Mutare Road, saying the road had a lot of business benefits to the country.
He also said the ministry required about $11 billion to rehabilitate the country’s roads, measuring 85 208km, saying government’s new thrust was establishment of private-public-partnerships to ensure effective rehabilitation and management of roads infrastructure.
Munodawafa also told NewsDay that the long-awaited Mutare airport had also been shelved due to lack of funds.
“We are taking it stage by stage and we will have gone full blast if we had resources, but the reality is that we have extremely limited resources. We know Mutare needs to be upgraded, but now we are looking at the optimisation of the limited resources that comes through,” Munodawafa said.