The Sunday News
Charleen Ndlovu, Business Reporter
THE rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway to be funded by the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) and the Government at an estimated cost of $350 million is expected to commence within the next two years, an official said.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Director of Road Maintenance, Engineer Kudzanai Chinyanga said the 439 kilometre stretch, which will also see the dualisation of 30 to 40km of the road was in dire need of rehabilitation as it has surpassed both its design and economic life. He said the road project was still a tender process with the feasibility study expected to start next year.
“The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road project is still in the tendering stages, a tender is yet to be approved. So far the ministry has shortlisted some of the tenders and it will go back to re-tender. The feasibility study can take up to eight months, so the rehabilitation programme will likely commence in the year 2020,” said Eng Chinyanga.
The highway is set to be rehabilitated and widened to meet Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission Standards.
The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway is part of Zimbabwe’s regional road corridor number R9 which runs from the border with the Zambia to the border with South Africa. It is also part of the trans-African Highway which runs from Cairo to Gaborone through to Pretoria, Kimberly.
The Minister of State for Matabeleland North Province, Cde Richard Moyo, said the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road has outlived its lifespan and needed to be expeditiously rehabilitated as it played an integral role in the country’s tourism sector.
“The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road rehabilitation project is very important and it needs urgent attention. The road is not only old but its present state has a negative impact on the business front as it affects efficiency in movement of goods. Further to that the highway is used by tourists to travel to one of the seventh wonders of world, the Victoria Falls. There is also no fence on the roadside and as I speak animals are probably straying onto the road, endangering the lives of motorists in the event of accidents,” he said.
A new Victoria Falls bridge linking Zimbabwe and Zambia is also expected to be constructed at an estimated cost of $50 million. A feasibility study, which would cost approximately $1 million to be funded by the Government and IDBZ is still to be commissioned.
Victoria Falls Bridge, which crosses the Zambezi River just below the Victoria Falls, provides the only rail link between Zambia and Zimbabwe and also has a 46-tonne carrying capacity roadway and a pedestrian walkway.
The Bridge was commissioned in 1905 with a design life of 100 years. Scheduled or routine annual maintenance of the Bridge is undertaken by the National Railways of Zimbabwe as contracted by the Emerged Rail Properties Limited.