LOCAL contractors are pushing for a 40% stake of available contracts in the dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway set to kick-start this month.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In an interview with NewsDay, Zimbabwe Building Contractors’ Association president Obert Sibanda said members were still looking forward to being considered in the project for dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, which was awarded to a foreign contractor, Geiger International.
“The project was awarded to a foreign contractor and it has a prerogative to then subcontract local contractors. In the process, government negotiated a 40% stake,” Sibanda said.
“We have tried to engage with the representatives of the contractor and they promised that when they start working they will also consider local contractors according to the 40% arrangement. So at the moment we are keeping our fingers crossed that the locals will be considered accordingly,” he said.
Addressing delegates recently at the Zimbabwe International Business Conference in Bulawayo, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the work on the dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway would commence this month.
He said President Robert Mugabe would launch it.
Work on the highway was stalled by court processes in 2013 after the initial winner of the tender, Zimhighways, took the government to court for breach of contract.
However, the court case was withdrawn leading to the submission of fresh bids for the mega project.
The construction industry continues to reel under critical funding constraints, as local banks impose stringent borrowing conditions against a background of liquidity challenges.
At its peak in the late 1990s, the construction industry employed about 35 000 people, but by 2009 the figure this had plummeted to about 3 000 and continues to dwindle, as there are hardly any meaningful projects for firms in the sub-sector.
Big projects are usually taken up by foreign contractors due to lack of funding locally.
Most of the skilled and semi-skilled manpower in the sector has left the country for greener pastures.
Last year, the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe said lack of government and private sector contracts and the liquidity challenges were the major factors contributing to the low capacity utilisation.
It also revealed that lack of huge capital inflows and major national development projects were some of the constraints cited by stakeholders in the construction industry.
The industry desperately needs funding and failure of that, it will collapse.