By Itai Muzondo
Masvingo, October 12, 2015–The rehabilitation of the The Harare – Beitbridge road which serves as a major interlink within Southern Africa is set to commence in March 2016. Zim-Highways Consortium director, Darlington Masenda made the announcement on Friday.
Addressing a gathering of business people at the fourth edition of ‘Gathering of Champions Conference’ in Masvingo Masenda said there is no bad blood between him and the government as might have been perceived after the much publicized court wrangle between his company and government.
“We are expecting to start the refurbishment of the Harare – Beitbridge road in March 2016. Most people think that the project is in shambles after the much publicized court case we challenged government but no, we are in good books. All we wanted was assurance that we still had our contract to renovate the major highway as we had agreed back in 1999,” Masenda said.
“We have agreed on constructing a dual carriage way. The whole project is valued at US$800 million and an estimated 36 months will be needed to complete the project. In between the period, we are also looking at creating between eight to ten thousand jobs.
“It is thereby your challenge as Masvingo to withhold this opportunity and use the development as an advantage to boost your business. All roads should ultimately lead to Masvingo because this calls for automatic economic empowerment,” Masenda added.
Representing Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Shuvai Mahofa, former Masvingo Senator Maina Mandava said the development will be definitely one great achievement her ally (Mahofa) would have accomplished.
“One worry Minister Mahofa had as she got in power was this road among many other problems currently being faced by Masvingo. Refurbishment of this highway will thereby become one major accomplishment in meeting the demands of the people in Masvingo. I believe she will receive this news with great gratitude,” said Mandava.
Event coordinator Angeline Mikiri said the refurbishment of the road will definitely revamp the ailing tourism sector in Masvingo.
“We facilitate events as these to foster development in Masvingo as a province and this is what we have just witnessed from what Zim Highways has disclosed now.
“This is a big development for Masvingo and it further stands as a stepping stone because it will trigger a lot of activity. One major activity which is healthy for our economy that will be brought through this development is revamping of the ailing tourism industry in Masvingo. Tourists will be provided with a proper road network to visit Masvingo from South Africa, so it is quite a development,” Mikiri said.
Transport operators in Masvingo have welcomed the promised project though they urged the contractors to be realistic and commence the project as promised.
“It has been decade now since we have been awaiting the refurbishment of this highway. We thereby look upon that what this young man (Masenda) said will be honored so that our transport business will flourish,” said Simon Matimati of Matimati and Son Transport.
“This road has been a major blow to the transport industry as expenses we face through accidents and tyre bursts had derailed our businesses. We have been expecting the coming of this project and we still await fulfillment of work to be done. We just hold our fingers crossed that the project commence and save us from the unbearable expenses we have been facing.
“We even know that once the project commences, there will be disturbances here and there along the highway but it is better as long as the road is getting back to shape,” said Febious Mabaya, a local transport operator.
Meanwhile, the Harare – Beitbridge road has got a 551 km stretch and has reportedly been a death trap where the narrow road had caused a lot of accidents leading to severe injuries and death in extreme cases in the past decade.
The dilapidated form of the road has resulted in a losss of many lives over the years.
Zim – Highways Consortium construction company is also the same company that constructed Joina City, which is reportedly one of the greatest architecture in Southern Africa and has also facilitated a range of developmental deals in Zimbabwe since the break of the mellenium.