Masvingo — President Mugabe is expected to officially launch the $1 billion Beitbridge-Harare and Harare-Chirundu highways dualisation project tomorrow, in a development likely to reduce carnage along one of Zimbabwe's busiest roads. The road will also boost trade on the continent, as well as unlock value for the country.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces will commission the official start of the dualisation project at a ground-breaking ceremony that will be held along the highway at Chaka business centre in Chirumhanzu.
Geiger International of Austria was contracted by Government to dualise the highway under a 25-year Build Operate and Transfer model.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo yesterday confirmed that President Mugabe would officially launch the dualisation project tomorrow.
He said the project would be done in phases, with the one being launched tomorrow involving dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare Highway.
"It will be a big day because the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway was long overdue after having been delayed by battles, that at one, time spilled into the courts," said Dr Gumbo.
"The project will cost just under a billion at about $998 million and the contractor will tell the President the time lines for completing the project and the President will also say something during the official launch of the project."
Dr Gumbo said preliminary indications were that the project was going to be completed within three years, with work expected to resume once President Mugabe officially launched it.
"The dualisation project will be done in phases and under the first phase being launched by His Excellency at Chaka, the dualisation will be done from Beitbridge to Harare only and as for the Harare-Chirundu stretch, the nation will be notified at the appropriate time," he said.
Dr Gumbo said the dualisation project would bring economic benefits to Zimbabwe and other countries in the region.
"We are happy that the dualisation will finally start and though it may not totally end road accidents along the highway, we believe for those drivers who are careful, the number of accidents will go down," he said.
Government has already insisted that 40 percent of the dualisation project was supposed to benefit locals as part of empowering indigenous people.
Calls for Government to expedite the dualisation project got louder last month after 30 people perished at Nyamatikiti River Bridge near Chaka when a Proliner bus bound for South Africa was side-swiped by a haulage truck going in the opposite direction.