HARARE, May 20– More than 10 investors from six countries have shown interest in a project to upgrade the Harare-Beitbridge road to a dual-carriage highway but progress on the project is being blocked by a lawsuit currently before the courts, says Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Obert Mpofu.

The 582-kilometre long trunk road is Zimbabwe’s road as it links Zimbabwe and South Africa and other neighbouring countries, including Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mpofu told Parliament here Tuesday that there were three options to improve the state of the road with costs ranging from 550 million US dollars to 1.3 billion USD.

The current condition of the road ranged from “poor to good with the majority being poor”, resulting in many accidents happening on that road, Mpofu told the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and
Infrastructure Development.

“There has been a lot of interest by investors to fund road construction in Zimbabwe,” said the minister, who added that six of the investors were from China while others were from Austria, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the Middle East.

Mpofu said the final investor would be selected once the case before the courts, in which a local consortium, ZimHighways, was challenging cancellation of an earlier tender to upgrade the road, was finalised.

The State Procurement Board (SPB) awarded ZimHighways the tender in 2005 but nearly a decade later, the firm had failed to implement the project which forced the SPB to cancel the tender. The consortium was not happy with the cancellation and took the matter to court in 2012.

Mpofu said there was also an alternative to rehabilitate the road in-house by building the capacity of the Department of Roads as well as making available the necessary funding.

The three options to upgrade the road, he said, involved rehabilitation and dualisation, rehabilitation and widening as well rehabilitation and shoulder surfacing. “All the options are economically viable,” he said.

Depending on which option was chosen, it would take between three and six years to upgrade the Harare-Beitbridge highway, he said.