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– Chronicle

A FEASIBILITY study is being conducted by a potential investor to facilitate comprehensive rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Felix Mhona, has said.

The road is strategic to the economy as it connects the country to the prime tourism destination and provides linkage to regional markets in the north.

Most portions of this highway have been damaged and motorists have been complaining about potholes, which have been worsened by last season’s heavy rains.

The poor state of the road became an agenda in Parliament last week when legislators pressed the relevant ministry to take action including setting specific deadlines.

In his response Minister Mhona said over and above the ongoing pot-hole patching exercise, the feasibility study would pave way for a comprehensive rehabilitation of the road.

He said a consortium of investors were already working on the feasibility study for the project, having submitted their proposals after the close of the adjudication process for invited bidders.

“In March 2021, the investor agreed with a partner to be the financier for the full project. The investor is working on completing the feasibility study which has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic,”

he said without naming the investor.

“The feasibility study is ongoing and I hope that since we are just two months away from the resumption of that feasibility study, it will also be prudent for us then to continue monitoring that.

“The result of the feasibility study will then guide us on when the works will commence.”

Minister Mhona said tender for the Bulawayo-Vic-Falls Road rehabilitation project was awarded to a consortium on February 14, 2019.

The projects were then presented to Cabinet and in April 2019, Cabinet gave the resolutions to approve the signing of the memorandum of agreement with the investors, which was done on April 4, 2019.

He could not disclose the identity of the consortium investor but said the memorandum of agreement paved the way for the conducting of the feasibility study, which would advise what would be the structure of the concession agreement with each investor funding the feasibility study using their own resources.

“The investor then proceeded to commence working on the feasibility study whilst also working on securing a financier for part of the feasibility study and also construction,”

he said.

In the meantime, Minister Mhona said, the road was being attended to through the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme so that it is trafficable and passable.

He also said the Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane road was also being worked on with a project now focused on restoration of connectivity by repairing washaways and grading in Matabeleland North areas.

“Currently, there is spot re-gravelling and wash-away repairs for 100 kilometres. In the Midlands, the scope is wash-way repairs, bush clearing, grading and spot re-gravelling,”

said Minister Mhona.

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