LEGISLATORS have urged the government to be vigilant when choosing a new contractor for the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge-Chirundu Road after authorities last week terminated Geiger International’s contract for delaying the project.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week disclosed that his government had terminated the firm’s contract after the company failed to hit the ground within the set
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport chairperson, Christopher Chitindi yesterday told NewsDay that Mnangagwa made the right decision of re-tendering the project, given that its implementation had dragged for a long time since 2016.
“A month ago, I spoke to the Transport minister [Joram Gumbo] about failure by Geiger to commence works and he said they had promised to commence works a month ago and were now bringing their equipment on site, but that never happened,” Chitindi said.
“The project was commissioned in 2016, but nothing came out. We want to warn those responsible for awarding tenders that they should do due diligence on companies that they offer big contracts to so that the country does not lose out.”
Bulawayo South legislator Eddie Cross said the announcement by Mnangagwa was a welcome development, as Geiger was a bogus company.
“I am delighted by the news because for a long time, I have been arguing that Geiger International did not exist and that it is just a front for a group of individuals in Zimbabwe, who procured the tender on spurious grounds in a bid to raise money and make profits. They were relying on China to provide the funds,” he said.
Cross was very critical of the Geiger contract, and recently in Parliament, he questioned Gumbo over the authenticity of the company, saying when he did some research on the company, he found that its address was in a small Austrian village, and its business was finance and not road construction.
In Parliament, Gumbo defended Geiger, saying that the awarding of the Harare-Beitbridge-Chirundu road had been split between Geiger International and a company called China Harbour (CHEC) and had charged 2% interest rates to the loan.
The section from Beitbridge to Harare had been quoted at $984 million and Harare to Chirundu quoted at $686 million.
Cross said it would be a difficult task to get China to release funding for the project because Zimbabwe owed them funds for different other projects like Ziscosteel.
He said the Harare-Beitbridge-Chirundu road is a strategic one for regional trade, but had been worn out severely because it endured a 60 to 70 year old lifespan.
Several vehicles have been damaged on the country’s roads, particularly, the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, with many of those who use the road losing their lives.