The Beitbridge –Chirundu dualisation project in Zimbabwe was stalled in 2002, after a court challenge by a group of local firms (Zim Highways Consortium). The grouping failed to raise the required capital, after winning the tender, resulting in the withdrawal of the tender. The dispute between the Government and the consortium was finally resolved last year.
The project is expected to now proceed and it was confirmed that the cabinet has approved the Engineering, Procurement and Construction agreement for $3 billion. China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC), won the tender for the construction of the Beitbridge- Chirundu Highway, and the project would be financed by Geiger International, an Austrian company.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Dr. Joram Gumbo, said the EPC agreement would be preceded by a concession agreement, which would see funds disbursed by the contractor to start work on the dualisation of the highway.
It is expected that the project will be carried out in 2 phases. The first section will be from Beitbridge to Harare, which will be done on Public Private Partnership/ Build Operate and Transfer (PPP/BOT) basis. This will be full dualisation. The second section will be done through a loan facility. The project on the 897 km stretch from Chirundu to Beitbridge, is expected to be completed in the next three years and likely to cost $2,7 billion.
The highway facilitates the movement of a lot of traffic between Southern and Central Africa and also facilitates regional trade. This development will facilitate the restoration of the highway as an artery and hub of SADC’s road transport network linking Southern Africa with the rest of Africa.
The highway has seen a lot of accidents due to the high volumes of traffic and dualisation could be a long-term solution to the problem.