Upgrading of Highway of Death now likely to start


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The upgrading of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway, also known as the Highway of Death, is now likely to start as $1.9 billion has been provided for the project, the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development Dextor Nduna said.

The construction of the road was bogged down by a contractual dispute which Nduna said had now been resolved.

“The resolution of the dispute surrounding the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge – Harare –Chirundu highway which is the commercial hub of the country was done so that the construction can be embarked on the pencil-thin highway of death, this is what we were now calling it as a committee,” he said when he presented the ministry’s 2016 budget assessment.

“The issue that was bedevilled with a lot legal issues has now been resolved paving way for a PPP arrangement for the construction and dualisation of the Beitbridge – Harare –Chirundu highway. We are quite confident that with the availing of $1.9 billion, we should be able to start construction and be able to save lives in that highway.”

The committee also urged the government to bail out Air Zimbabwe and the National Railways of Zimbabwe, saying Air Zimbabwe needed $2.7 million to get back onto the books of the International Air Transport Association while the NRZ needed a government guarantee so that it can find strategic partners in order to get more than $650 million which is enough to resuscitate, rehabilitate and to revamp the parastatal.

 

Full contribution:

 

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to give my report on the Transport and Infrastructural Development Committee. I will use the Power Point so that the hon. members that are in this House can now take time to view ICT from the comfort of their chairs.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I will go to the next slide which is the introduction.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO): Hon. Member this may eat into your time.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, under the circumstances I will try and go through this word document with a little aid of technology. “For an economy built to last, we must invest in what will fuel us for generations to come – growth and investment in our nation’s infrastructure”, this is a quotation from Cory Booker of 2013.

The mandate of the Ministry is to provide and manage transport related infrastructure and services through the development of policies and regulations for the transport sector.

The developmental mandate of the Ministry is also drawn from the following:

Ten Point Plan

Focusing on infrastructural development, particularly in the key Energy, Water, Transport and ICT sub-sectors

Section 13 of the Constitution:

National Development

I will now dwell on the achievements of the Ministry in 2015. One of the achievements was the establishment of the Victoria Falls Airport which is still ongoing and is going to be operationalised soon.

I will now go on bridge construction, the Little Sebakwe, Mbembezi, Mutshavezi and Save Bridges were completed. The New office block for VID Chitungwiza was opened to the public. The resolution of the dispute surrounding the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge – Harare –Chirundu highway which is the commercial hub of the country was done so that the construction can be embarked on the pencil thin highway of death, this is what we were now calling it as a Committee. The issue that was bedevilled with a lot legal issues has now been resolved paving way for a PPP arrangement for the construction and dualisation of the Beitbridge – Harare –Chirundu highway. We are quite confident that with the availing of $1.9 billion, we should be able to start construction and be able to save lives in that highway.

The budget overview Mr. Speaker Sir is open for all to see. Of the USD 37 million that was allocated in 2015, we are USD2 million up. There is an allocation now of USD 39.9 million. Twenty-nine percent of that is going to go to recurrent expenditure and 71% will go to Capital Expenditure.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I will go on to the key priority areas and the recommendations. What you see on the screen is a request for an amount of USD2.7 million for the re engagement into the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which is an international organisation which is globally oriented that is going to ensure that Air Zimbabwe can generate income by transporting passengers of other airlines and vice versa, only if we get to re-engage IATA or it we in embeded once again with IATA. We need USD2.7 million before we get kicked out of this global organisation in total. It is very key that we get this money, cognisant of the fact that there is no allocation that has been given to Air Zimbabwe as we speak. This is a way of raising income for Air Zimbabwe only if we get that USD2.7 million. I am hoping I can appeal to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to see it in himself to give that allocation because it is key. We have not asked for anything more, we are asking for this money to make us utilise what we have to get what we want and what we can for the nation as a flagship carrier.

The next slide dwells on NRZ. All we are asking for is not money but that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to expedite the clearance of companies that have acquired scrap metal from the NRZ to export their scrap which will unlock USD 5 million for NRZ. This is enough money to pay wages at NRZ. We are only asking for authority to export the scrap metal that has already been paid for but which monies cannot be unlocked because the buyers cannot export their scrap metal.

On the same vein, we are asking the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to expeditiously be embedded with NRZ so that it can find strategic partners in order to get more than USD650 million which is enough to resuscitate, rehabilitate and to revamp the NRZ. All we are asking is for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to provide a guarantee for NRZ to get offshore financing to rehabilitate its infrastructure. It has been seen that NRZ cannot go it alone and we cannot also get PSIP funding or money from Government because the cake is very small. In the same vein, we still want the Minister of Finance, together with the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, to continue to explore means and ways of getting our mineral wealth that is in South Africa. This will enable us to unlock the value of mineral wealth that was left as a legacy for Zimbabwe and Zambia but which mineral rights are in South Africa.

On the Beitbridge Border Post, as a Committee, we are requesting the expeditious completion of Border Post Authority. What is this going to do? We are getting more than US$3million to US$4.2million through the Beitbridge Border Post. We believe that such money has got the effect of growing the GDP of any nation by 3%. So, the expeditious creation of this Border Post Authority is going to make sure that as a nation, we get a lot of in-flows of capital without any impediments.

Your Committee recommends that there be an expeditious creation of this Border Post Authority. I will take you back to 2008/2009 where the country was hit by a cholera epidemic. Immediately, a Cabinet Committee was formed, which went to Beitbridge border post in order to go and make sure that there was movement which was unimpeded at the border. Before the creation of the border post authority, which is going to be a one-stop-shop for everything that passes through the border post, as we speak, there is a plethora of reporting structures where ZIMRA is reporting to somebody, VID is reporting to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, etcetera.

We are calling for an immediate composition of a Cabinet Ministerial Committee that goes and decongests the movement of both human and vehicle traffic at Beitbridge Border Post. The Committee has noted that if you delay a truck for four days, which is laden with 30 tonnes of sugar, you will land that truck at US$2,99 more than is supposed to be landed in the country. Similarly, a 30 000 litre container of fuel is going to be landed at US$3 more if you delay that same truck at any border post for four days. If it is more than four days, the landing price will double. So, we are trying to move our traffic and we are calling for a Ministerial and Cabinet Committee to be formulated immediately before a Border Post Authority is formulated in order to go and decongest as well as separate vehicle and human traffic.

I will now go onto the reconstruction of the air traffic control tower at J.N International Airport in Bulawayo. The reconstruction of the ATC tower needs US$9 million. What does this mean Mr. Speaker Sir? The present tower is shorter than the new infrastructure and does not give human aircraft interface, which is a globally accepted interface in the air traffic control system. I say this from an air traffic controller’s point of view. We are requesting that we get that US$9 million dollars and it is the Committee’s view that continued usage of J.N Airport in its present state without that air traffic control tower utilizing the new infrastructure spells disaster and it is the Committee’s view that you would rather close down the J.N Airport than use it in its present state. One day there will be disaster because of the non-interface between the aircraft and air traffic controller.

In conclusion, budgetary allocations must be focused on key economic drivers such as the NRZ and Air Zimbabwe which have positive externalities in trade, travel, tourism, agriculture and the mining sectors of the economy.

Words of wisdom: “Transportation is the centre of the world. It is the glue of our daily lives. When it goes well, we do not see it. When it goes wrong, it negatively colours our day and curtails our possibilities”. (Robin Chase: CEO of Zipcar, 2014)

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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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