The road from Plumtree covers Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Harare and Rusape up to Mutare. The director of Group Five Projects International Ltd(Zimbabwe), Ham Coetzee, said work would start mid-next week. “We are moving the machinery to Plumtree at the weekend from Bulawayo and by mid next week we expect to be in full production,” he said.
Coetze also said the mega project would absorb many of the jobless local people along the way. “We have 250 people on the payroll of whom only 10 are expatriates and the rest are Zimbabweans,” he said.
At least US$206 million will be sunk into the project, expected to create massive employment. Government sealed a deal with Development Bank of Southern Africa for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Plumtree-Mutare road.
Last year, the State Procurement Board (SPB), which that handles government tenders, caused a stir when it said it was unaware of the multi-million dollar project.
Government says Group Five International is a renowned company that has constructed major highways and airports in South Africa.
Group Five entered into an agreement with Zinara and set up a special purpose vehicle called Infralink, which is 70% owned by the principal contractor and 30% by Zimbabwe’s road authority, to implement the road construction and modernisation project.
Massive equipment worth millions ofdollars, which will be used to construct the highway, will be moved from Bulawayo to Plumtree at the weekend. The equipment includes a recycler, chip spreaders and computerised brushes.
Group Five offices told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday that the recycler is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and has a capacity to rip off a stretch of the old tarmac and reconstruct it on the same day with the road being usable the following day.
Group Five International brought some of the equipment from Germany. The rehabilitation and widening programme is expected to be complete in 36 months. Once complete, the highway would have at least nine world class toll plazas to recoup money used during construction.