PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday blamed the collapse of the country’s infrastructure on Western-imposed sanctions.
By Stephen Chadenga
“Because our country has been under sanctions for more than a decade and a half, our infrastructure has deteriorated,” Mugabe said.
“We face several challenges in our attempts to secure lines of credit. Thus, when funding such as that for this project has been secured, we cannot ever afford to maintain a business-as-usual approach to work.”
Mugabe said the road was not only strategic to the country, but to the Sadc region and part of the North-South corridor as well.
The project — which will cost $984 million — will be funded by main contractor Geiger International under the private-public partnership arrangement, with 40% of the work reserved for local contractors.
Mugabe said the nature of the project was expensive, hence, required high standards for government to get value of the cost. He challenged local companies that would get tenders in the project to maintain high standards of work.
“Clearly, infrastructure development is expensive, hence, whenever we undertake such projects, we must demand that the product be of high quality and must be durable and give good value for money,” he said. “Sub-standard work should never be tolerated.”
Mugabe said increased pressure on the road, which he described as narrow, had seen many accidents occurring on the highway with the latest being that involving a bus where 30 lives were lost.
He, however, admitted that protracted negotiations with various potential financiers had delayed the project.
Mugabe also appealed to community leaders to lead campaigns against vandalism of national infrastructure.
Geiger International vice-president Eric Geiger said his company would do everything possible to ensure that the road was completed within three years as per the contract agreement.