Government will leave the rehabilitation of the country’s major highways to investors while it marshals its resources to smaller feeder roads that are unattractive to private players, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Speaking at a mid-term budget review breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, said he had observed how roads can transform poor communities from his previous work in the private sector.
Describing a road as “an economy” Minster Ncube said Government will, however, expend its resources on building efficient feeder roads into trunk roads as the later are able to attract investment due to their tolling capabilities.
Trunk roads or trunk highways are strategic roads or major highways that connect two or more cities, ports and or airports and are usually recommended for long-distance and freight traffic.
Minister Ncube last week presented a $10, 85 billion Supplementary Budget and 2019 Mid-Term National Budget Review Statement to parliament of which $1,345 billion will target infrastructure support. Speaking at yesterday’s review meeting, Minister Ncube said Government is targeting to spruce up feeder roads particularly in rural areas with a view of improving economic activity in those areas.
Because of their tolling potential, the Minister said trunk roads will attract investment from private players who will then be engaged under Public, Private Partnerships as well as Build, Own Operate and Transfer agreements.
“Of course again in the budget, you have to make space for infrastructure investment where we are looking at feeder roads in rural areas, financing feasibility studies in the BOT (Built Own Operate and Transfer) projects, we have done that,” said Minister Ncube.
“Let me be clear, the trunk roads – this is Beitbridge (to) Harare (to) Chirundu, Beitbridge to Bulawayo (to) Vic Falls – and the other trunk roads, these are BOT projects, Build own, operate and transfer. They are for PPP (Public Private Partnership) arrangements with the private sector, Government should not fund those projects, why, these are toll roads, we know how to toll them.
“Government’s job is to deal with feeder roads that feed off these trunk roads and we need the feeder roads because a road is an economy. It is an even better economy if it has feeder roads,” he said.
The Minister also added how he had noted, in his previous work in the private sector, communities being transformed economically on the back of an efficient road network passing through once impoverished communities.
“I can give you many examples across Africa because I used to fund roads in my previous profession in Africa. We know how it transformed parts of Rwanda, parts of Mali (and) parts of Nigeria just by building a road through a poor rural area, you change it forever,” said Minister Ncube.
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Publish date : 2019-08-06 07:24:39