SA firm seals US$2bln road deal

Tinashe Makichi

Construction group, Khato Holdings, has sealed a deal that will see the dualisation of Beitbridge-Victoria Falls highway at an estimated cost of US$2bn in a build, operate and transfer arrangement.

Construction is expected to start during the first half of 2020, while feasibility studies are expected to cost US$3.8m.

Khato Holdings subsidiary, Khato Civils and South Zambezi joint venture will be responsible for the development of the road. A memorandum of agreement between Zimbabwe and the joint venture was signed in April this year and the letter of appointment followed in April.

At present the joint venture has completed the review of previous studies and is conducting a bankable feasibility study.

Speaking from his base in Midrand, South Africa, Khato Holdings chairman Simbi Phiri told Business Times that the project was a game changer and that the company possesses the required expertise to execute the project.

He said presentations had been made to various financial institutions to secure debt financing for the project which is expected by August 2019. Financial close is expected in early 2020.

The project will be run through a special purpose vehicle which will include all stakeholders for transparency.

“We have started mobilisation works towards the project that will see us putting up a state of the art road and several facilities including emergency hospitals,” Phiri said.

“We are not a Micky Mouse company and we are going to execute this project with a difference. We have enough capacity to undertake projects of this magnitude. We have done such projects across the region.”

The project will see the group constructing modern toll gates, a high rise building to house its offices in Bulawayo among other state of the art deliverables.

Other facilities earmarked for the project are emergency hospitals along the highway to attend to accidents and helicopter service to
monitor the highway in the event that it becomes operational.

As part of execution, Khato is going to set up a special purpose vehicle to undertake the project with preliminary works having been done.

Phiri is a Malawian-born businessman tycoon based in South Africa who has vast experience in construction with various completed projects across the SADC region and West Africa.

“We have enough capacity to execute this project and we have all the necessary equipment to complete this project which we are sure is going to be a game changer for Zimbabwe,” Phiri said.

“We don’t hire equipment, we have our own equipment and our biggest competitive advantage as a company is efficiency and what we have done in other countries is for everyone to see. We are not a briefcase

The Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway is a road corridor that runs to the border with Zambia and with South Africa. The highway also links Zimbabwe to the trans-African Highway which runs from Cairo to Gaborone through to Pretoria, Kimberley.


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