Contractors lobby for protection

LOCAL building contractors are lobbying government to adopt measures to protect them from South African construction companies who are likely to elbow them out of the market after Zimbabwe and South Africa signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa).

Construction companies say the agreement exposes them to stiff competition with well-funded South African companies which are most likely to win most projects.
Zimbabwe Association of Building Contractors member in Bulawayo Alfred Mavenga this week urged government “to adopt protectionist measures for local contractors” that would afford them first preference in bidding for local projects.
Construction companies have been in limbo for the past decade due to the economic meltdown.
“The view of local building companies is that we will be elbowed out of the market. Bippa will see an influx of established South African contractors sweeping all projects” said Mavenga.
He added that unlike local contractors who have obsolete equipment and a poorly trained workforce, South African contractors are equipped with modern machinery coupled with skilled personnel hence they would be preferred ahead of them during bidding processes for tenders.
Most South African contractors upgraded their equipment when they took up projects for the soccer World Cup and since most of the work has been completed, they are scouting for projects within the region.
Due to the dilapidated state of major infrastructure in the country, Zimbabwe would be the ideal market.
As part of the national recovery plan, heavy trunk road repair and long-standing agro-based civil engineering projects which have been crumbling over the years are some of the major jobs that need to be carried out urgently.
“Zimbabwe’s infrastructure is badly dilapidated and major renovations are needed and South Africa has modern machinery for the job. So since World Cup projects are complete Zimbabwe is now targeted.
“We feel that we will be overlooked on projects as government would want to see Bippa fulfilled,” Mavenga said.
South Africa is the first African country to conclude such an agreement in January. The coming in of the Chinese companies is likely to compound the situation. There is already a huge presence of Chinese companies that are enjoying contracts, mostly from government and local authorities.

 

Nqobile Bhebhe

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