Walter Nyamukondiwa in Marongora
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has officially launched the commencement of works on the first 6,5km of a 21km stretch along Makuti-Chirundu Road linking the country to Sadc, Comesa and East African states.
The project is being financed through a US$21 million grant from Japan and will be implemented with the support of Japanese engineers and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
President Mnangagwa said the development was part of Government’s thrust to develop robust and modern infrastructure which will see at least five major road projects being supported every year in each province.
To that end, President Mnangagwa said local and foreign investors should come on board to help the Government modernise infrastructure through various models.
Japan has hailed the Zimbabwean Government for committing a budget to infrastructure development, even under difficult economic conditions.
“The implementation of this project is indeed of strategic importance as it will enable the smooth and unimpeded flow of traffic, people and goods along the North-South Corridor.
“I am informed that this project will cover the most treacherous terrain leading to Mana Pools National Park turn-off and will be implemented in the 18 months up to December 2020,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said he was optimistic the project would be completed ahead of schedule owing to the hardworking nature of the Japanese engineers.
The President said the stretch of the road to be reworked and widened had resulted in numerous road accidents and loss of life.
The scope of works includes constructing a 70-metre wide road (35 metres on each side) and climbing lanes which will ensure faster moving vehicles are able to pass heavy trucks.
It will also see the construction of ancillary road structures such as safety barriers, road markings, increased curve radius for easier navigation.
To ensure the project’s quick implementation, President Mnangagwa said it had been granted National Project Status.
The Head of State and Government said modernisation of the road would help to enhance linkages among Sadc, Comesa and East African states.
“In view of the immense possibilities presented by the African
Continental Free Trade Area, the modernisation of this road will also enhance linkages among Sadc, Comesa and East African community member states thereby positively contributing to regional and continental trade and integration,” he said.
The President challenged officials at the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post to anticipate increased efficiencies along the road upon completion and upgrade their systems to facilitate the smooth movement of people and goods.
He said resources were being availed for the modernisation of the country’s roads with each province getting support for at least five projects every year.
“In line with our present thrust to modernise our road network, resources are being availed for the National Road Development and Rehabilitation Programme under which at least five projects will be undertaken annually in each province of the country,” he said.
“That is at national level, we give you five projects each year for the province for road infrastructure but above that we have devolution. There are funds that are channelled to the provinces.”
He invited local and international investors to partner Government towards the modernisation of road network through Build-Operate-and-Transfer and Build-Operate-and-Own models, among others available.
People involved in the project, he said, should shun corruption to ensure that it is implemented within set timelines.
He said under devolution, rural and urban councils have been given money which he said should be used prudently, adding that communities should be involved in the identification of common projects.
The President said availing of funds to provinces was a new development introduced by the New Dispensation.
Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Toshiyuki Iwado expressed his country’s full support for Zimbabwe’s drive to become a land-linked country.
“Zimbabwe is making considerable efforts to transform from being a landlocked country to being a land-linked country. For example, the Zimbabwe Dry Port has recently opened in Namibia. And Government is allocating a significant budget to road construction projects, even under strict fiscal reforms,” said Amb Iwado.
“Japan fully supports Zimbabwe’s efforts to become more land-linked, since we believe that improving connectivity and making a country more land-linked promotes the economic activities of the country and increases its economic potential.”