The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
THE cost of constructing the 20km stretch Airport Road ballooned to US$80 million because of the high cost of building seven bridges and flyovers which will gobble up about US$42 million, Augur Investments representative Mr Ken Sharpe has said.
There have been questions over the cost of the road works especially after the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s 2010 report put the cost per kilometre at US$500 000, meaning the 20km could have cost US$10 million.
But Mr Sharpe told The Sunday Mail last week that the cost of constructing a 600-metre flyover along Robert Mugabe Road and Enterprise Road and a bridge was US$30 million while six other such structures were estimated at US$12 million.
He said Augur was charging lower rates of US$1,56 million per kilometre compared to other sadc countries which average around US$1,76 million per km. Mr Sharpe also said Airport Road was more expensive than Ngezi Road because the latter was a rural road which used inferior construction material, adding asphalt chewed about 24 percent of the cost of the road works on Airport Road.
“When we first entered into negotiations with the City of Harare in 2008, we were supposed to develop and extend the Airport Road for US$6 million . . . but the designs later changed after Cabinet reviewed the project to a national highway with six lanes . . . three lanes on each side, hence the high cost of the project,” he said.
On the delays which have seen the project dragging for six years, Mr Sharpe defended his company, saying payment for the works was delayed by the Harare City Council which once gave Augur Investments land in Borrowdale which could not be immediately used. Augur agreed with the city fathers that it would be paid using land for property development.
“Some of the land which we were given was not suitable for development. Some of it was declared wetland. Therefore, we were prevented from using the land.
“All this explains why there have been delays. Apart from land issues, we once couldn’t get access to build roads because we were waiting for clearance from Zesa and TelOne which have infrastructure along the road.”
Mr Sharpe said works were suspended as council was “yet to pay” Augur Investments to complete the project.
However, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Cde Ignatius Chombo has since said the project would be handed over to the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) after Augur Investments allegedly failed.
On the other hand, Mr Sharpe said his company was still contracted to implement the project and was awaiting council to transfer more land into Augur’s hands so that works could resume.
“I am a patriotic Zimbabwean and it’s in my interest to get the road finished as soon as possible. As soon as we get more land then we will immediately resume works,” he added.