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Japan gives Zimbabwe US$ 17.4m for North-South corridor road upgrade

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By Anna Chibamu


JAPAN and Zimbabwe last Friday signed an agreement for the North-South Corridor Phase 2 road improvement.

The construction between Makuti and Hell’s Gate (Mana Pools turnoff) is funded by Japan which has provided a grant worth US$17.44 million.

The two countries represented by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, Japanese ambassador Shinichi Yamanaka and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) chief representative to Zimbabwe Shigeki Furuta exchanged notes in a signing ceremony in Harare.

The financing of the project by Japan enhances the government’s effort in the upgrade of roads countrywide.

It also comes at a time when the government has commenced reconstruction of the Harare-Chirundu road.

The Japan-funded project will be supervised by JICA engineers and implemented by the Department of Roads in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

“The Phase 2 project scope will comprise the widening of curves, improvement of the vertical and horizontal alignment and construction of hill-climbing lanes.

“Other works include the construction of drainage and safety facilities such as crash barriers and road signs,” said the JICA statement.

The North-South Corridor is a vital international trunk road, essential for Zimbabwe’s trade with neighbouring countries and regional trade, and forecast by the African Union (AU) to become one of the continent’s busiest transport corridors by 2040.

“With the increased promotion of regional economic integration through SADC and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it has become even more imperative to facilitate trade with neighbouring countries.

“Japan and African countries reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring quality infrastructure along the important trade corridors at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), held in Tunisia in August 2022,” a statement by JICA read.

Further, it said, “This section of road between Makuti and Hell’s Gate, with its steep gradients and sharp hairpin bends, coupled with the increasing number of heavy trucks transporting goods to and from Chirundu One-Stop Border Post, had become a major bottleneck of the North-South Corridor with a high accident rate and slow-moving traffic.”

Phase 1 of the project, was funded by Japan and improved a 6.5km section between Marongora and Hell’s Gate.

Phase 2 is expected to improve the remaining 7.8km section between Makuti and Marongora whilst strengthening the capacity of staff of the Department of Roads, through sharing Japan’s expertise in traffic safety measures, road improvement and maintenance.

“By alleviating a major bottleneck on the North-South Corridor, the project will facilitate regional trade and integration as well as promote Zimbabwe’s economic and social development.

“To ease another bottleneck of the corridor, that of delays at Chirundu One-Stop Border Post, JICA is currently implementing a project to enable the smooth movement of people and goods through the border.

“It will be economically efficient considering life-cycle costs and fulfil its functions for many years to come,” Furuta said.

Furuta said through incorporating the principles of QII in its cooperation with Zimbabwe, Japan will continue to support well-built and resilient infrastructure that improves regional integration, and that has a maximum positive impact on achieving sustainable growth and development for the country.