Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Second Republic is among other things prioritising infrastructure development projects some of which are being made possible with the aid of a robust private-public partnership model, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Felix Mhona said the Government has in the last three years adopted an accelerated drive for infrastructural development.
He said this was part of President Mnangagwa’s vision of creating an upper-middle-income economy by 2030. Minister Mhona made the remarks after touring the construction works under the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post upgrading and modernisation of the project which is being implemented by the Government and the Zimborders consortium.
The initiative is a culmination of a concession that sees Government providing the technical support while Zimborders through various institutions are providing funding.
Major civil works are expected to be completed under two years thereafter the Zimborders Consortium will manage the border on a 17 and half years Build-Operate-and-Transfer agreement.
The minister said the commissioning of the first phase of construction works will be done in September by President Mnangagwa.
“Lack of appropriate infrastructure and non-automation at the country’s and Sadc’s busiest border (Beitbridge) had in previous years created a bottleneck to the efficient movement of cargo and people” said the Minister.
“This created security challenges, congestion, and delays. In order to address some of the challenges here, the Second Republic undertook a project to upgrade and modernise Beitbridge Border Post through a private-public partnership with the Zimborders consortium”.
He added that the Government was happy with the progress on the ground and that all was going as scheduled.
The main scope of the project included the upgrading of the border post with new terminal buildings, commercial facilities for the border post plant, animal quarantine facility and the construction of 264 staff houses for border agencies.
The first phase, he said, include the construction of internal border infrastructure development — a new freight terminal, scanner facility, gatehouses, and commercial area’s roads and parking, new vehicle Inspectorate Department buildings, and a maintenance building for use by Zimborders.
“As you are aware, this is one of the busiest borders in our country and Sadc region, and I am sure this is going to be the hub in Sadc in terms of regional and international trade facilitation.
“You will note that previously, we didn’t have accommodation for our people, but as we speak we witnessed that the contractor is on course in terms of providing the civil works.”
Within the next coming six weeks Zimborders will be starting the construction of the houses to be completed between 2022 and 2023.
Workers were already on site excavating and trenching on areas where sewer, water reticulation, access roads and a 15 megalitres reservoir tank will be located. “The maintenance terminal will serve as the nerve centre to enhance efficient border management systems. In essence, we are taking off the burden from the old infrastructure to the new structure.”
He said the last phases of the Beitbridge project would be completed by the end of next year.
Zimbabwe, he said, remained the transit route of choice in the region and that there was no need for people to panic about the opening of the Kazungula Bridge between Botswana and Zambia.
“There is no way traffic can be redirected towards Kazungula. Actually driving from Durban via Beitbridge to Zambia is a shorter route compared to the Kazungula route which has an excess of 200km.
Given such a scenario, any logistics company would prefer a shorter distance, and the rehabilitation of this major artery is underway and by the end of the year we will be done,” said Minister Mhona.