THE Ministry of Transport through the Department of Roads has commissioned South African company Royal HaskoningDHV (formerly SSI Engineers & Environmental Consultants) to conduct a feasibility study for the improvement of the Harare – Beitbridge Road to determine the viability of the construction and tolling of the road.
The feasibility project study is urgently required to provide an indication of viability as interested funders, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the African Development Bank (ADB), need to make a decision about committing funding by March.
Government will require about US$500-US$700 million for the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway. DBSA has already put in close to US$2 million in technical assistance to assess how bankable the project is.
Royal HaskoningDHV project manager Phil Hasluck explained that the study, which would be carried out in association with five Zimbabwean partner firms, involves traffic studies, development of a toll strategy, engineering analysis and concept design, environmental impact scoping, economic feasibility study, financial modelling and preparation of draft project information memorandum for investors.
The Harare – Beitbridge Road is part of the trunk road network of Zimbabwe and is a part of the North – South Corridor, one of the major arterial links in the regional road network.
The road is the most direct link between the capital cities of Harare and Pretoria and provides landlocked Zambia access to the Indian Ocean ports of Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa.
“The road carries between 1 000 and 5 000 vehicles per day with the heavier flows in the proximity of Harare,” said Hasluck. “Of significance is the fact that a high proportion of this traffic are trucks that are carrying goods, equipment and machinery that are needed to support the Zimbabwean economic recovery,” says Hasluck.
The road project is approximately 580km long, starting just outside Harare and ending at the Beitbridge border post. It is a single carriageway two lane road with numerous bridges, some of substantial size.
Although well maintained in the past, the road is now over 40 years old, bumpy and dangerous in some places, and is rapidly deteriorating under the increased heavy vehicle traffic.
Alternatives to improve it as a single carriageway road or to add certain sections as dual carriageway would be assessed.
DBSA is also involved in the Plumtree-Mutare highway where it provided funding of US$206 million. From Plumtree, the 800km road covers Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Harare and Rusape up to Mutare. Zimbabwe National Roads Administration has a 70% shareholding in the joint venture while Group Five International has 30%.
Group Five International is a company that has constructed major highways and airports in South Africa.