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Divided local contractors set to lose out on Beitbride-Chirundu Highway

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Divided local contractors set to lose out on Beitbride-Chirundu Highway

HARARE- Sharp divisions have rocked the construction industry ahead of the much anticipated Beitbridge -Harare-Chirundu highway project as local contractors are reportedly failing to agree on forming a consortium, Finx can report.

Although President Robert Mugabe last week implored local contractors to merge, a battle is brewing in the industry. All local contractors’ associations that include CiFoz ,ZimHighways, CIFoZ members, Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association (ZBCA) are all expected to benefit from the 40 percent share of the project set aside for indigenous construction companies.

ZBCA had refused to join hands with CiFoZ in their bid to approach Austrian firm, Geiger International to discuss the modalities of the project.

“We will approach Geiger by ourselves, we cannot wait for CiFoZ to engage them for us,” said ZBCA vice president Geral Chipumha.

ZBCA says the Ministry of Transport had given them the green light to engage Gieger on 40 percent share in the mega project but there was no consensus on who will lead the process. ZBCA maintains that they are entitled to a share of the project and taking Gieger head on was the solution the deadlock.

“Geiger will engage us as organisation so that we included in 40 percent,” said Said Chipumha  “It s not that the train has left us.”

Chipumha said Geiger had not engaged any of the players in the construction industry.

The ministry has led us to Geiger and we were assured that they had not yet engaged anyone.  Bickering among the contractors would lead to the disqualification of some small contractors with less capacity to work on such major projects. Analysts have cast doubt over a possible joint venture for the billion dollar highway project.

The 40 percent share includes ZimHighways, CIFoZ members, ZBCA members and other suppliers but consensus has not yet been reached on a consortia.

Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu dualisation highway project was launched by President Robert Mugabe last week. Although ZBCA, like other local construction players was expecting a windfall from the US$1,8 billion project contractors may only rake in US$400 million if engagement with Gieger are successful.

None of the local players have been awarded part of the 40 percent of the project but ZBCA, Chipumha said last week that forming a consortia of construction companies would give local firms a good shot at the deal.

“Let’s form ourselves into a consortium so that we look bigger. We have made it clear that one company will not be able to do it”,  Chipumha said. He earlier stated that, early deliberations with the Ministry of Transport and Gieger indicated that local contractors would get 40 percent stake in the project.

“We have been guaranteed that work is coming our way through serious engagement with the Ministry and Geiger”, said Chipumha.

Local contractors expect to cash in on other minor projects like 37 bridges and 10 tollgates that would be happening during the dualisation programme.

“We can be guaranteed that we are on the right path. I want to give you hope that there is no other project to look forward to than this project”, Chipumha added.

Struggling local contractors have in the past been left out of major construction projects due to lack of capacity to handle mega projects.

Geiger International, which is coming onto the project which China Harbour Engineering, a Chinese parastatal as the contractor has pegged tender documents at US$850 per set, enraging struggling local players. The Ministry of Local Government has however said that the tender documents should not exceed US$80 per set.
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