|15. December 2016
Investors demand mineral rights
A government official has indicated that potential investors for the rehabilitation of the country’s dilapidated road network and infrastructure were demanding minerals rights, making it difficult to seal agreements.
Theodius Chinyanga, the director of roads in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, said government was under increasing pressure to rehabilitate the road network that has outlived its lifespan by more than 40 years. Most of the country’s major roads were constructed before the country’s independence in 1980. Currently, only about 20 percent of the national road network is in usable condition.
“The greatest challenge that we have under the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), in the proposed rehabilitation of the road network, is that there are conditions set by unsolicited investors who want to get mineral rights in return, something our ministry does not deal with,” said Chinyanga during a Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe meeting in Harare recently.
Chinyanga could, however, not disclose the identity of the investors or their countries of origin.
The state of the country’s road infrastructure has deteriorated over the years, and many are now dilapidated and with patches where efforts have been made to repair.
Zimbabwe’s road network has been a key artery in the southern African region with traffic from South Africa passing through Zimbabwe on its way to Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and some parts of Mozambique.
Consignments landing at the port of Beira in Mozambique have had to pass through Zimbabwe to Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, while there have been large volumes of traffic from the DRC to South Africa passing through Zimbabwe. Under the circumstances, Zimbabwe is under immense pressure to not only rehabilitate its roads, but to also modernise them. The treacherous roads, riddled with potholes and ragged sharp edges, have long been condemned as death traps accounting for most of the road traffic accidents that claim at least five lives per day, injuring dozens, according to 2015 statistics from the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe.
The bad state of the country’s roads means that the amount of money required to rehabilitate them to international standards would be enormous given the huge funding gap.
About US$10 billion is needed to rehabilitate the country’s entire road network.
A few projects have taken place, including the rehabilitation of the 828km Plumtree-Mutare highway financed by a US$200 million loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Government has now prioritised the rehabilitation of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge road, the Harare-Chirundu, Harare-Nyamapanda, Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Bulawayo-Beitbridge highways.
Also to be rehabilitated are Bulawayo-Nkayi, Bulawayo-Tsholotsho, Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane and Buchwa-Rutenga-Sango roads.
The Mberengwa-West Nicholson, Karoi-Binga-Dete, Golden Valley-Sanyati-Kuwirirana-Nembudziya, Harare-Bindura and the Murambinda-Birchenough Bridge roads need to be widened.
Chinyanga said a consultant called CPCS Transcom was currently developing a National Transport Infrastructure Master Plan, which is expected to address the country’s transport requirements in the short, medium to long-term.
The document is also expected to be modelled in line with current economic realities and the country’s national development plans.
(Financial Gazette, Harare)