Thursday, August 12, 2010

(HERALD) Funding stalls dualisation of roads

Funding stalls dualisation of roads
New Ziana

THE feasibility study for the dualisation of the country’s major highways has not yet started because the Development Bank of Southern Africa has not released promised funding for the project, a senior government official said at the weekend.

The country intends to dualise the Beitbridge to Chirundu and Harare to Bulawayo highways at an estimated cost of US$1,3 billion. DBSA recently pledged a grant of US$500 000 to the Zimbabwe government for the feasibility study.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport Communication and Infrastructure Development, Mr Patson Mbiriri told New Ziana that the study was yet to be started.

"Government is yet to receive the grant from DBSA," he said.

Mr Mbiriri said that government had targeted to complete the feasibility study by June next year. The two roads, Harare-Beitbridge and Harare-Bulawayo, measure up to 870 kilometres. The two highways to be dualised link Zimbabwe with South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.

"The studies would be followed by detailed designing of the roads," he said.

Most of the country’s roads are in a state of disrepair as result of years of neglect and increased volume of traffic beyond designed carrying capacity.

According to the Ministry of Transport, 30 percent of the country’s roads require rehabilitation, while the remainder needs periodic maintenance.

The dualisation of the highways is supposed to be undertaken by private investors who would then recoup their investment from toll fees.

Government introduced tollgates in August last year as a way of mobilising resources for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the country’s road network.

Meanwhile Mr Mbiriri said equipment for the fibre optic cable connecting Zimbabwe to Mozambique is now in the country.

Government recently released over US$6 million for the project, intended to link the country to the under sea cable.

The permanent secretary said that deliveries of the equipment started trickling in last week.

"We have started receiving cables for the project from Huawei technology," he said.

"The trenching process is now at an advanced stage."

Mr Mbiriri said government was still optimistic of meeting the November 5 deadline for the connection.

"Before the Christmas holiday Zimbabwe will be connected to the rest of the world," he said.

The project is expected to increase Internet, and other communication speeds.

For international connectivity, Zimbabwe has been using the Mazowe -based satellite link, which is expensive, and has limited capacity.

Current Internet speed is slow because of the use of satellite technology, making the costs prohibitive.

The fibre optic project will also result in the country using a much more reliable and affordable platform.

The fibre optic link would be connected to the undersea cable in Mozambique. — New Ziana



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