ZIMBABWE has stepped up efforts to ensure it plays a pivotal role in the Sadc Regional Infrastructure Master Plan (RIMP) with a number of transport infrastructural developments linking the country to its neighbours at various stages of implementation.
The cross-border projects are estimated at $500 billion and seek to develop infrastructure in power, transport, water, communication, tourism and metrology in the 15 countries over a 15-year period, which started in 2012 and expected to end in 2027.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said Government has lined up a number of infrastructural developments that are expected to spearhead the revival of the country’s economy and complement the regional master plan.
He said the Government was working to improve its roads, rail and air transport infrastructure so as to enhance trade with member states from the Sadc and Common Market for East and Southern Africa trading blocs.
“Zimbabwe is a regional hub with all exports to the North and all imports to the South going through it. It’s not only a passage for Sadc but for Comesa as well. That’s why investors are scrambling to assist us in developing our air, rail and road infrastructure and these are mostly from China, India, South Africa and even Europe.
“The Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge road is part of the regional road network and forms part of the North-South corridor linking South Africa to other Sadc and Comesa member states to the north and therefore facilitates trade within southern states and Africa at large,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said the extent of the trade makes Beitbridge the busiest port of entry in Southern Africa and together with Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls a critical link in the region.
The other road projects that link the country to the region are the 352 kilometre Harare-Chirundu road. This road is part of the north-south corridor and therefore important in the handling of regional traffic within Sadc and Comesa.
“Due to Zimbabwe’s strategic position, the road presents the shortest route for the regions’ north-bound traffic from the ports of Beira and Durban. Locally, the road traverses some of the best agricultural production areas of Zimbabwe and its upgrade would benefit the agricultural sector,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said the road had outlived its design life of 20 years. A feasibility study was concluded in 2012 and it is proposed that the project be implemented over a period of four years at an estimated cost of $883 million.
“The Harare-Nyamapanda road is 238 kilometres long and was constructed in 1980. The road is part of the regional trunk road network linking Zimbabwe to the rest of the Sadc and Comesa regions through Mozambique. It also provides the shortest route from the south into Malawi and the north.
“The road is narrow and would need to be widened or dualised in order to accommodate the ever increasing number of heavy vehicles. No feasibility study has been done for this road. It is proposed that it be implemented over three years at an estimated cost of $300 million,” Dr Mpofu said.
Government is also looking at dualising the Mutare-Harare road to complement Mozambique’s efforts which would be dualising its Beira road to Mutare. This road forms part of the east-west transport corridor linking Sadc countries to sea ports in Mozambique.
The initiative is based on an assessment that intraregional trade is being constrained by a lack of “connectivity” and that the development of trans-border infrastructure could stimulate further growth and development, as well as facilitate a transition away from the current over-reliance on mineral and agricultural resources within Sadc economies.
Dr Mpofu said the country was also in the process of introducing the one-stop border post concept, with one already in effect at Chirundu.
The concept allows travellers to be cleared just once for passage into another country unlike the set-up where they have to undergo formalities at each side of the border.