Preparatory works on traffic surveys along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway as part of a feasibility study for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the expressway have begun.
Construction of world-class roads and other infrastructure, is in line with the National Development Strategy 1's (NDS1) key priorities, and is critical to the attainment of Vision 2030 of an empowered upper middle income economy.
To ensure work starts on the key Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, Zimre Holdings chief operating officer, Mr Chakanyuka Nziradzemhuka told The Herald on Wednesday evening that the feasibility study, which received a US$3 million boost earlier this year, had reached implementation stage, with recruitment of enumerators having already started.
The feasibility study is being undertaken through a partnership between two subsidiaries of a South African company, Khato Holdings; Khato Civils and South Zambezi, and Zimre Holdings.
Mr Nziradzemhuka said Zimre Capital, a subsidiary of Zimre Holdings, from a financial advisory point, has been tasked to commence the traffic study, and report accordingly to the joint venture partners and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
"We have already started recruitment of enumerators from surrounding communities in Beitbridge, Lupane, Hwange, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls for low-level activity in preparation for the mass-basis feasibility study," said Mr Nziradzemhuka.
The enumerators will be involved in traffic count from vantage points in their localities, like tollgates.
The practicability study will determine what exactly needs to be done on the highway; whether to dualise, widen, or just resurface it. It will also help in affording investors a chance to ascertain possible financial models to use in terms of recouping their investments and for how long.
The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls superhighway provides a corridor that connects South Africa and Zambia. It also links Zimbabwe to the trans-African highway that links Gaborone to Pretoria.
Beitbridge is the busiest inland port in SADC as it offers a gateway to South Africa for most countries in the region.
The South African firm secured the deal for the rehabilitation of the both the Beitbridge-Bulawayo and Beitbridge-Victoria Falls highways, in a build, operate and transfer arrangement in 2019. It then roped in Zimre Holdings through its subsidiaries, Khato Civils and South Zambezi in a joint venture.
A memorandum of agreement between Zimbabwe and Khato was signed in April 2019, followed by a letter of appointment.
Working with mostly local contractors, the Government has begun the rehabilitation of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, with over 240km of the road having been completed so far, facilitating a smooth flow of traffic.