WORK on Rainbow Tourismâ€™s new Beitbridge hotel ended earlier than planned in 2008, due to seven artisans working on the civils phase of construction contracting cholera.
With under 18 months to the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament kick-off in South Africa, progress on the luxury 120-bedroom hotel by the Limpopo, planned to open in time to accommodate football fans, was halted, due to cholera hitting the workers, shortages of fuel at the border town and complications arising from dollarisation of Zimbabweâ€™s economy.
The life-threatening water-borne cholera epidemic hit the labour camp of Costain Zimbabwe, main contractors on the project. With seven workers already infected, the site was shut and remaining craftsmen sent home early for Christmas.
Civil works (building of service roads, pathways and installation of utilities) on the hotel, planned to sleep up to 300 guests, were due to be completed before the local building industry closed mid-December for a month, a traditional year-end holiday.
But this early preparatory phase of construction wasnâ€™t completed by deadline date, as work was totally stopped.
South African World Cup officials asked Zimbabwe to supply 2 000 hotel rooms to cater for a projected overspill and accommodation shortage in South Africa during, immediately before and after the premier football event.
A spokesman for the builders said, following the â€œinformal dollarisationâ€ of Zimbabweâ€™s economy, suppliers were demanding payment for inputs either in local cash: almost impossible to adequately source, or in scarce United States dollars.
â€œThe economy has virtually dollarised and very little can be bought in Zimbabwe dollars, particularly if it is not cash. This is a fundamental issue to be resolved and agreed upon for the project to successfully proceed,â€ said Costainâ€™s spokesman.
Meanwhile in Harare, RTG operations chief, Lewis Chasakara, said early closing of the site was disappointing but the hotel group was confident of getting the project back on schedule. He said RTG fully intended to open in good time to benefit from World Cup spill-over demand for rooms.
When complete, the new hotel is expected to cost the equivalent of US$12 million.Â NSSAâ€™s pension fund will finance and own the structure.
BY DUSTY MILLER