THE snail’s pace at which the Harare Airport road is being constructed has raised serious questions about the capabilities of the company contracted to handle the project.
BY OUR STAFF
Augur Investments (Pvt) Limited, an Estonian-registered company, has been working on the 10-kilometre project for the past four years, but there has not been any meaningful development.
But some construction projects of similar magnitude or even bigger, are showing remarkable progress.
Dualisation of the Harare-Mutare and Plumtree-Mutare roads, which only started this year, is fast taking shape.
Augur Investments chief executive, Mike Van Blerk last week told The Standard that construction of the Airport road would take longer because the project was “complicated”.
“The Airport road is actually a project formulated in 1964 as part of the city council’s Master Plan aimed at erecting new structures and dualisation of the road so it entails complexity of implementation in its entirety,” he said.
Van Blerk said there was need to build structures such as bridges and flyovers which take longer to put up.
Critics of the project believe the cost of construction was too bloated compared with the distance that is supposed to be covered.
Awarding of tender not transparent
A joint venture between the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) and Group Five International Limited has made considerable headway on the US$206,6 million rehabilitation of the 820-kilometre stretch from Plumtree to Mutare.
There has been a lot of road construction activity along the route from Plumtree border post to Mutare.
Van Blerk said dualisation of the Harare-Mutare road was easier than the Airport road because it has a clear corridor.
“Without a corridor running from the airport gates to the city centre, it’s a whole lot complicated. This involves constructing a whole new corridor projected to cost US$68 million, with a unique technical design in its scope for the current year,” he said.
The awarding of the contract to Augur Investments set tongues wagging as it was done without going to tender.
Harare City Council in 2008 signed an agreement with Augur Investments under which the company would dualise, extend and develop the road into a highway with high rise flyovers and bridges.
A caretaker council appointed by Local Government, Urban and Rural Development minister Ignatius Chombo signed an agreement with Augur Investments to renovate the road under which the latter would finance the design and construction of the highway.
The project was valued at US$80 million, with 10% of the total figure being paid in cash and the remainder in land, which council would provide to the company.
As part of the deal, Augur Investments received 733,9 hectares in stands dotted around plush areas of Harare.
City Council spokesperson, Lesley Gwindi could not comment on the slow pace of development over the phone.
“These are practical work projects that would need to be discussed at the office next week,” he said.