THE song ‘Masvingo neCarpet’ by Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena Jazz Band, released in 1986, is no longer nostalgic for motorists nor is it commuters’ folklore.
It is a reality.
From the ongoing projects along the Beitbridge-Harare Highway to upgrading the Robert Mugabe International Airport, the Second Republic led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has, in the last three years, adopted an accelerated drive for infrastructure development.
And the Republic is leaving no-one behind as it has also set its sights on upgrading the Kazungula-Victoria Falls Highway.
To improve the north-south corridor, the completed phase of the Marongora-Hellsgate section of the Makuti-Chirundu Road was commissioned months back.
In Harare, roadworks are everywhere with the long awaited reconstruction of Seke Road set to be the major highlight.
Indeed, the Second Republic is ticking all the right boxes towards an upper-middle income economy as embodied in national Vision 2030.
Rapid infrastructure development across the country will not only consolidate the country’s position as a regional powerhouse, but it is placing Zimbabwe as the heartbeat of trade and commerce in the region and beyond.
A connected hub
Qatar Airways’ decision to spread its wings across the Zimbabwean skies is testimony to the Second Republic’s commitment to mutual engagement and re-engagement with the international community for the common good of all citizens.
The return of Qatar Airways connects Zimbabwe to the massive hub airport at Doha with all its connections around the world.
Qatar Airways will fly to Harare three times a week from Doha using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Qatar Airways’ return comes as the Government is refurbishing and expanding the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The contractor, China Jiangsu International, said the US$153 million project is expected to be complete next June.
The expansion will see the extension of the international terminal building and aprons, installation of four new bridges, a secondary radar system, construction of a VVIP pavilion and an airfield ground lighting and communication system.
On completion, the airport will become a regional aviation hub handling about six million passengers annually from the 2,5 million presently.
The upgrade of the RGM International Airport is expected to see more international airlines opening routes into Harare and a corresponding increase in tourist arrivals.
In a related development, President Mnangagwa is next month set to commission the first phase of the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post Upgrade and Modernisation Project.
The project, which is being implemented by the Government and the Zimborders Consortium, includes the upgrading of the border post with new terminal buildings, commercial facilities for the border post plant, animal quarantine facility and the construction of 264 staff houses for border agencies.
The first phase includes the construction of internal border infrastructure — a new freight terminal, scanner facility, gatehouses and commercial area’s roads and parking, new Vehicle Inspectorate Department buildings and a maintenance building for use by Zimborders.
In the next coming weeks, Zimborders will be starting the construction of the houses to be completed between 2022 and 2023.
Workers were already on site, excavating and trenching on areas where sewer, water reticulation, access roads and a 15 megalitres reservoir tank will be located.
The last phases of the Beitbridge project would be completed by the end of next year.
Major civil works are expected to be completed in two years and, thereafter, the Zimborders Consortium will manage the border on a 17-and-half-year Build-Operate-and-Transfer Agreement.
Lack of appropriate infrastructure and non-automation at the country’s and SADC’s busiest border post (Beitbridge) had, in previous years, created a bottleneck to the efficient movement of people and cargo.
This, among other things, created security challenges, congestion and delays.
Turning to the Zimbabwe Beitbridge-Harare Highway: Government will complete upgrading the 580km Beitbridge-Harare Road by the end of next year, reflective of the Second Republic’s desire to transform the country.
By July 30, the project had opened up 196km to traffic.
Deputy Finance Minister Clemence Chiduwa recently told Parliament that Government had already spent ZWL$19,9 billion on the project.
Said Dep Min Chiduwa: “As of July 30, we had opened 195,55km to traffic.
Given that some contractors have completed the first 40km contracted, procurement of phase three works targeting additional 40km has been completed and work is underway on some sections.
Judged by the current progress, it is anticipated that the 580km will be completed by end of December 2022.
To date, Government has paid ZWL$19,9 billion towards the project.
In order to lock in the contract prices, Government has made a decision to re-denominate the road contracts in US Dollar, with payments being partly in Zim-dollars and US dollars.”
The Beitbridge-Harare Road is the busiest highway in Zimbabwe as it also serves Zambia, Malawi and the DRC.
The upgrading involves designing and widening the existing lanes to meet the Southern Africa Transport and Communication Commission standards.
The project was split into phases with five contractors namely, Bitumen World, Fossil, Masimba Construction, Tensor as well as Exodus and Company engaged for the rehabilitation of the first 200km.
Under the Emergency Road Repair Programme Phase 2, about 220km of roads have been rehabilitated, while 22,8km have been sealed after many years of neglect.
Over 2 000km of roads have been re-gravelled, 6 627,9km graded, while 701 drainage systems have been constructed or repaired and 184 wash ways reclaimed.
Massive irrigation schemes
In December, President Mnangagwa commissioned the revived Chombwe Piped Water Scheme which is supplying piped water to over 10 000 households in arid Chivi north and central.
The revival of the scheme was financed by the Government under the devolution programme.
The scheme has economically transformed parts of Chivi through access to potable water for rural households, schools, clinics and business centres along a belt stretching from Mhandamabwe Business Centre to Chivi Growth Point.
The households that have access to the piped water supplies are developing small irrigation plots ranging from 0,5 hectares to one hectare in size, engendering food security in the traditionally drought-prone Chivi in line with Vision 2030.
The relocated farmers are now part of the Machiki Irrigation Scheme.
Government availed US$2,7 million as compensation to be shared among displaced farmers.
Completion of the 245km long Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo Pipeline is expected by December 2022.
The first stage of the project, which is the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani, is already underway and on-course, with a total of ZWL4,5 billion allocated for the project in the 2021 National Budget.
The dam will be completed by December 2021.
On completion, the pipeline will have the capacity to convey an excess of 160 000 megalitres of water to Bulawayo annually, a development that will improve the water and sanitation requirements of the city.
Since agriculture is the backbone of the economy, the large volume of water from the project will propel irrigation activities along the pipeline route of Lupane, Tsholotsho and Umguza Districts.
Therefore, this will ensure greater production, productivity and profitability in the agricultural sector.
In Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces, farmers are also smiling as Government completed Muchekeranwa (formerly Causeway) Dam Project with a storage capacity of 75 000 cubic metres.
In Masvingo, the country’s largest inland dam, Tugwi-Mukosi, is providing water to the Lowveld sugar estates and surrounding communal farmers.
The dam also has the capacity for hydro-electric power generation of six megawatts.
This is part of the journey towards providing relief and self-sufficiency in power generation in the country.
The US$1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion programme entailing the addition of Units 7 and 8 is also expected to add a combined 600MW to the national grid.
Once completed in 2022, Hwange 7 and 8 units and the existing plant will generate an average of 1 300MW.
The expansion project is running parallel to the upgrading of the Deka Pumping Station and construction of a 42-km water pipeline from the Deka River to the Hwange Thermal Power Station.
This development is envisaged to solve the perennial water supply challenges at the power station, which requires about 3 500 cubic metres of raw water per hour for power generation.
The Second Republic has also been working on improving social services across the country.
Through the devolution programme, Government allocated devolution funds to be shared among the 10 provinces based on a number of factors such as poverty levels in all rural districts, quality of infrastructure and the size of the population.
Most provinces have started using the funds for construction of schools, clinics and roads, among other projects aimed at facilitating development.
In Bulawayo, funds were used to build schools such as Vulindlela Primary School in Cowdray Park, rehabilitation of Fernhill Pump Station, Inyankuni Pump Station, Aiseleby Treatment Plants and Matshobana Sewer Outfall Rehabilitation.
In Midlands, Kwekwe converted Garandichauya beerhall into an Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH).
The 26-bed hospital is being used to isolate and manage infectious diseases patients.
To improve living conditions of residents in Midlands, devolution funds were also used to upgrade housing units in the province.
In Makonde District, a disused farmhouse was also transformed into a clinic that will address the needs of over 10 000 families in the area.
The clinic, Gandawasvika, is expected to be operational by October.
In Muzarabani District, the construction of Kapembere, Nyamaridza and Utete clinics has all been made possible thanks to devolution fund.
In Rushinga, Nyatsato Clinic, also constructed using devolution funds, is now attracting patients from Mozambique who come to the clinic for healthcare services.
In Matabeleland North, and Lupane in particular, thanks to devolution funds, Government departments are set to be relocated to the long-awaited Elitsheni Government Complex.
The majority of Matabeleland North public officers are still operating from Bulawayo and resisting the move to the provincial capital, citing lack of adequate accommodation, office space and basic services.
Indeed, the country is on course to implementing Vision 2030 to become an upper-middle-class economy to the extent the EU has even acknowledged the Second Republic’s efforts to stabilise the economy and reaffirmed its commitment to continue supporting Zimbabwe.
No doubt the country’s frosty relations with Western powers are thawing.
In October, President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be the first sitting Zimbabwean leader to visit the UK in over two decades when he travels for this year’s Climate Change Conference in Britain.
President Mnangagwa has been invited to the gathering by Queen Elizabeth II, where he will be among a distinguished cast of world leaders who will attend the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference — also known as COP26.
Zimbabwe is definitely on the rebound.