Harare-Chirundu Highway upgrade begins

As the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway nears completion, upgrade work on the northern leg of the major north-south corridor, the Harare-Chirundu Highway, has started.

Five of the contractors are currently working on the site.

The five contractors are still finishing up their sections of the 570-kilometer Harare-Beitbridge Highway, but they can now draw on their collective experience as they focus on the 342-kilometer Harare-Chirundu Road, which connects Zimbabwe with South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania.

Most of the highway needs a rebuild, with the Karoi-Kariba stretch now having bad patches characterised by potholes and eroding edges making it difficult for motorists to manoeuvre. Only the stretch from Chirundu up the eascarpment is considered to be in good condition after the recent major work partly financed by Japanese support.

Transport and Infrastructure Development Ministry Permanent Secretary Engineer Theodius Chinyanga recently conceded that the road was now in a bad state adding that its upgrade was going to be done using locally generated funds. Tolls collected along each highway are the main source of guaranteed funding for each leg, and will usually pay for the work required within a few years.

A well-serviced road network upgrade drive that the Second Republic quickly embarked on since inception, will help improve the vital cog of Zimbabwe’s economy.

The upgrade has similar characteristics and same policies as that of the Beitbridge-Harare Highway that is nearing completion.

“The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and Government are aware that the highway is in a bad state and the contractors are now working on ensuring that they start the works,” Eng Chinyanga said.

Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Mashonaland West Provincial Government Roads Director, Engineer Simbarashe Gomo, said the contractors who were given tentative stretches to work on, are currently on the ground doing preliminary works.

“What is happening to the Harare-Chirundu Highway are the preliminary works towards designing so that we go into the proper procurement. Although there are no formal engagements with the contractors for them to start the works, this is the most important aspect of the process.

“Each of the five contractors that worked on the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway that are now supposed to start the process here have to conduct preliminary processes in line with the Procurement Act,” he said.

Eng Gomo said for the upgrade process to officially kick-start, there was supposed to be a design and cost layout for the procurement exercise to be done.

“The Government gave tentative sections to the contractors who are currently conducting site reconnaissance in order to prepare their bills. These will be used for procurement processes.”

Before tendering, contractors are normally invited to come on the ground so that they familiarise themselves with the ground situation.

This will help in the procurement procedure as it will clearly state what needs to be done.

The contractors who are expected to upgrade the road are Tensor, Fossil, Bitumen World, Masimba Contractors and Exodus and Company and they have all managed to conduct site reconnaissance for the entire stretch.

Motorists have lauded the move saying it was going to reduce road carnages, improve trafficability and time spent travelling.

“We welcome any moves to facilitate smooth movement of goods and people. This road is integral to Zimbabwe and the entire Southern African Region,” said motorist Mr Charles Machiyafumbetu.

The Government has already widened and rehabilitated 22km on parts of the Marongora stretch of the highway in the extreme northern section.- The Herald

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