Red flag raised on US $ 85 million traffic exchange project

MEMBERS of the public raised a red flag over the government’s announcement that the Mbudzi roundabout traffic interchange on the Masvingo Highway in Harare will cost $ 85 million, which could be revised upwards.

The announcement quickly sparked a suspicious public backlash as people wondered how a smaller project like Mbudzi’s would cost more than Africa’s largest interchange, the Mount Edgecombe Interchange in Durban, Africa. South, which cost 1.14 billion rand ($ 77 million) before commissioning in 2018.

The Durban project, with four levels and the longest air bridge in Africa, cost $ 8 million less than the one in Harare. This shows that the Mbudzi project is excessively expensive.

Transport Minister Felix Mhona announced on a state television broadcast on Wednesday that the Mbudzi project will cost $ 85 million.

“The whole project will cost $ 85 million, but this is subject to review and I can say with pleasure that the funding is already there. We have also invited private actors. Twenty million dollars will be used for detour routes. “said Mhona.

Mhona’s disposition that the price is in fact subject to a “review” – which, according to previous experiences with government projects involves escalating costs or budget overruns – has fueled concerns that the project could end up reaching $ 100 million.

The Council of Ministers received and adopted on Tuesday a report of the ad hoc inter-ministerial committee on the elimination of congestion and the installation of appropriate lighting in the urban areas of the country presented by the Minister of Local Government, July Moyo.

It covered infrastructure, public transport and the application matrix.

The Mbudzi interchange was one of the projects.

Public works in Zimbabwe are often riddled with corruption, especially bribes and kickbacks.

Corruption in the construction of public infrastructure has particularly serious implications for countries like Zimbabwe. Inappropriate project choice, high prices, poor quality, excessive time and cost overruns, inadequate maintenance and low yields, among other challenges, negatively impact economic growth and poverty reduction.

Corruption in the early stages of the project cycle, when projects are appraised, designed and budgeted for, opens the door to further corruption later on.

The Mount Edgecombe interchange upgrade in South Africa, which featured many sophisticated features and designs, is the largest interchange in the southern hemisphere, but cost only US $ 77 million.

The Zimbabwean government has also said it is finalizing a funding model for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of state-of-the-art toll plazas compatible with an electronic toll system.

“We want to avoid delays at toll plazas and we will rebuild toll plazas such as Shamva, Skyline and Dema toll plazas. We want modern toll plazas with an electronic toll system,” Mhona said.

The Mount Edgecombe Interchange has one of the longest progressive launch bridges in the southern hemisphere, with a length of 947 meters.

In total, there are six new bridges, three existing widened or lengthened bridges and a total of 12.4 kilometers of ramps on this project. In total, 1.8 km of mechanically stabilized earth walls, some up to 17 meters high, were built. The walls required major geotechnical improvements to the ground by means of a grid of rock columns at the foundations.

The construction team had to overcome many challenges throughout the nearly decade-long project. Some of the major design considerations included physical space constraints due to current and future developments, road allowance limitations, traffic congestion, future traffic demands, proximity to the Gateway Theater of Shopping exit of the M41 , existing stormwater mitigation areas and housing future development access and future capacity.

These constraints were overcome by using a four-level free-flow exchange configuration. This provides for full-width free-flowing directional ramps in all directions while keeping the geographic footprint of the interchange as small as possible and well within the constraints of the road allowance.

The main feature of the project is the two upper level ramp viaducts. Bridge B0214 has a deck length of 443 meters, and Bridge B0215 has a deck length of 947 meters, making it the longest ramp-launch bridge in the southern hemisphere, as well as the longest structure in bridge never built in South Africa.

What sets B0215 apart, however, is that the bridge is constructed as two bridges, both of which were launched gradually, but from opposite sides, and designed to meet in the center. Ensuring that the two bridges meet within dimensional tolerances required innovative design, precision surveying and good construction management.

The final position of the bridges was seven millimeters from the design position transversely and 0 mm from the design level vertically. Considering the size of the bridges and the fact that these bridges were launched from opposite ends, this precise final position is a testament to the world-class manufacturing and engineering capabilities in South Africa.

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