Chinese contractor for the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway banned by World Bank for corruption


The World Bank ban would only be lifted once the company “has put in place an effective corporate compliance program acceptable to the World Bank and has implemented this program in a manner satisfactory to the World Bank.”

Not much information is publicly available on Geiger International, the company that is supposed to raise the $2 billion for the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway. On its website, Geiger lists the manufacture of military goods, textiles and vehicles among its key businesses. The company also says it constructs roads and other infrastructure with “some very competent and very powerful companies as joint partners.”

Transport Minister Joram Gumbo was recently quoted as saying Geiger and CHEC were “now busy putting together the finances and equipment so that they can come to Zimbabwe” to sign an MoU with the Zimbabwe government.

While CHEC has not responded to emailed questions, it has previously insisted it has itself never been investigated for fraud by World Bank.

The Beitbridge highway has been in use for over 55 years, way beyond its design life of 20 years. Efforts to rehabilitate the highway, whose state of disrepair has cost many lives in car crashes, have been held back by claims of corruption and bribery.

In 2003, government awarded the contract for the dualisation of the road to Zimhighways, a consortium of 14 firms that included Murray & Roberts, Costain Africa, Kuchi Building Construction, Tarcon, Bitcon, Joina Development Company and Southland Engineers.

However, the project never took off as bickering erupted between the government and the consortium. Government accused the contractors of failing to put up the money for the project, while Zimhighways accused government officials of demanding bribes.

The consortium also accused government of going behind its back to negotiate a separate deal with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), with which Zimhighways had agreed on a funding plan.

In 2013, after government announced plans to hand the project to a new contractor, citing Zimhighways’ failure to start the project, the consortium took the government to court. Zimhighways only dropped its lawsuit in 2015, allowing government to float a new tender, won by Geiger International.

The highway is Zimbabwe’s busiest and most economically significant, and is part of the North-South Corridor that directly links landlocked Zimbabwe and Zambia with access to the Indian Ocean ports of Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa.

According to Zimbabwe’s transport ministry, a feasibility study completed in June 2013 established that $1.3 billion would be required for the rehabilitation and dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare stretch, while an additional $883 million (according to a 2011 study) would be required for the link between the capital and Chirundu on the border with Zambia, bringing the total project cost to nearly $2.2 billion. – The Source


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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