Civil works on the upgrading of the $600 million Beitbridge-Harare Highway have begun following the engagement of five locally-based contractors to work on different sections of the road.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Biggie Matiza, who toured the works between Bubi and Beitbridge yesterday, said the upgrading of the road, which is part of the North to South corridor (under the African Union classification), had been divided into five segments.
He said most of the contractors were already on the ground and that the works had been divided into two phases.
According to Minister Matiza, the first phase includes the widening of the road to 12,5 metres to meet the standard Sadc road size.
The second phase, he said, would involve the dualisation of the road from Beitbridge to Harare.
"What we are seeing here is the fulfilment of our Government's pre-election promises," said Minister Matiza.
"You will note that initially we had engaged foreign contractors, but we realised it could be more expensive and cumbersome to implement the project.
"So we have identified local contractors who are already on the ground. Each contractor will in the next seven months work on upgrading their 20km segments, after which, we will relook the terms and give them another portion. The idea is to work on the road project in stages.
"Our target is to complete the upgrading and widening of the highway from its current state to 12,5 metres. For the Beitbridge section we are having Bitumen World who have already started on civil works.
"To avoid dereliction of duty and slow implementation of the project, this time around we have entered into tight contracts with strict ground rules and timelines.
"What is happening on the ground so far shows that all players have the zeal and passion to move forward together as we seek to transform and upgrade the country's road infrastructure."
Minister Matiza said Government was equally worried with the state of the road, which links the country with South Africa and countries north of the Zambezi River.
He said the road had become a death trap for many travellers and that many people were now looking at alternative transient routes to avoid Zimbabwe because of the state of the road.
"We are losing a lot of human capital and potential revenue from transit commercial traffic and hence we have to up the tempo in this project," said Minister Matiza.
A representative of Bitumen World Mr Bigboy Sibindi said they had mobilised equipment on site and that they were on course to meeting their target.
"We have started working on the 20km stretch and we are confident that the project will be completed as agreed with our client," he said.
"We are also going to outsource labour from the communities living along this road."
Mr Sibindi said they were working on a detour to give them space to carry out civil works on the actual road.