Upgrade of Beitbridge post to begin next month

Posted On Thursday, 11 August 2011 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Construction would take 18 months and the development would see traffic diverted into three streams, one each for light vehicles, pedestrians and buses and trucks

Infrastructure ImageWork on a $90m upgrade of Zimbabwe’s notoriously slow Beitbridge border post is to start next month, investor Old Mutual said yesterday.

The post is the busiest transit link in eastern and southern Africa, and the main axis of the North-South Corridor linking SA by road and rail with Zimbabwe, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and northern Mozambique. It processes more than 10-million tons of cargo a year.

"Work begins next month, WBHO (JSE-listed construction group Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon ) is on the ground preparing," said Old Mutual Infrastructure, Development and Environmental Assets fund manager Kingdom Mugadza.

The fund has financed the equity requirements for the South African Infrastructure Investment Company for the upgrade.

Construction would take 18 months and the development would see traffic diverted into three streams, one each for light vehicles, pedestrians and buses and trucks, he said. This was because they had different risk profiles for customs officials. The old border post buildings would be razed and a new building erected. Construction would include a 5km access road from the junction of the roads from Bulawayo and Harare, and 250 free-standing houses for new border staff.

Department of Trade and Industry deputy director-general Nimrod Zalk said it was "pretty self-evident" the development would smooth trade flows and aid SA’s exports to and through Zimbabwe.

Mr Mugadza said he was not aware of plans to upgrade the South African side of the border, although increased efficiency on the Zimbabwean side had the potential of overloading SA’s stressed Musina border post. SA’s side of the border has suffered from a shortage of parking space for truckers at peak periods.

Research showed the cost of transport in Africa was 30%-4 0% above that of other developing regions, which was a substantial drag on regional trade and economic development, said Mr Mugadza.

Phone calls to five South African departments met with the response that the particular department could not help. The Development Bank of Southern Africa has not been approached for funding for the South African border post.

The National Planning Commission has warned that without improvements to infrastructure, SA stands to lose its regional dominance by 2030. Analysis by The Economist shows that in the decade to 2010, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. Although SA has about 80% of the continent’s economic output, it is seen as a "laggard", with a growth rate of about 3,5%.

SA is trying to secure finance for its three-year R850bn infrastructure spend programme. This is needed as much to retain SA’s regional dominance as to smooth over the country’s roiling sociopolitical waters.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 13:21

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