A road challenge for Zimbabwe

Construction work is finally underway for a major new highway link in Zimbabwe after many years of false starts.
November 8, 2023 2 minutes Read
Wirtgen recyclers have helped treat the surface material

This impressive mega-project is seeing the construction of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway, which will provide a vital transport link for the country.

Running across the country from Chirundu in the north and on the border with Zambia, the route runs through the capital Harare and all the way to Beitbridge in the south, located on the border with South Africa. The route is nearly 900km-long and the existing road has been notorious for fatal crashes, heavy congestion and poor road condition.

Upgrading the road to multi lane highway status will help to boost Zimbabwe’s struggling economy, cut crashes and reduce journey times. The highway is one of the most important links between the TransAfrica Highway and South Africa. The highway upgrade project has been planned for many years but has been hit by serious delays, with a shortage of funds being one of the key issues.

Its bad condition, heavy traffic and poor road safety record had become a serious problem. In view of this situation, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development assigned highest priority to the project and awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of this particular section to five local contractors. These include: Bitumen World, Fossil Contracting, Tensor Systems, Exodus and Masimba Construction.

The work is finally underway and a fleet of Wirtgen machines is playing a vital role in the construction. The rehabilitation of the section between Beitbridge and Harare and the partial widening of the roadway from 7-12.5m began in 2019 and should be finished in 2023. The work is being carried out by a large and complex fleet of machines, which includes Wirtgen recyclers, Vögele pavers, and Hamm compactors, Kleemann crushers and a Ciber asphalt mixing plant.

The existing two-lane road is being replaced by a 12.5m-wide dual carriageway and brought into line with international standards. The project also includes the construction of 17 toll stations, which will provide revenue for the maintenance of roads throughout the country.

The equipment fleet is proving able to cope with both the high summer temperatures of up to 45° and high rainfall during the rainy season.

The local Wirtgen Group South Africa sales and service organisation arranged the deal. The machine quality strong support convinced the contractors involved in the project and tipped the scales in favour of purchasing machines from the Wirtgen Group. The machines were provided by the Machinery Exchange Group (MXG), the local dealer for Wirtgen Group machines and after-sales contact for maintenance and service.

The project was split into three sections: the 570km Beitbridge – Harare stretch with eight toll stations; the 342km Harare – Chirundu stretch with six toll stations; the 59km Harare Ringroad.

Bitumen World was assigned project sub-sections: Masvingo – Beitbridge (km 164 to km 237); Beitbridge Urban (12km). The main tasks were the removal of the existing layer, paving of base layers and paving the new asphalt surface layer.
The firm used Vögele SUPER 1603-i pavers, Hamm 3411 and 3520 compactors, Hamm HD 090 V tandem rollers, Hamm pneumatic-tyre rollers and Wirtgen WR 240 cold recyclers.

The firm has carried out 312,000m3 of earthmoving, laid 228,000m3 of cement treated base layer, compacted an area of 130,000m³ and laid an asphalt base layer with a thickness of 40mm over a total of 520,000m³.

Masimba Holdings carried out 70km Masvingo Road stretch. Its main tasks have included the removal of existing layer, paving of the base layer and paving a new asphalt surface layer. The company has used Vögele SUPER 1603-i pavers, Hamm 3411 and 3520 compactors, HD 090 V tandem rollers, Hamm pneumatic-tyre rollers, Wirtgen WR 240 cold recyclers and a Kleemann crushing train. Masimba has carried out 320,941.60m³ of sub base works, paved 205,223.85m³ of the upper layer, built 208,613.25m³ of the lower layers and handled 231,912.00m³ of subgrade works.

Fossil Contracting was assigned the 80km Harare – Beitbridge Road sections. Its main tasks have been the removal of the existing layer, paving of the base layer and paving of the new asphalt surface layer. The firm has been using  Vögele pavers, Hamm rollers and Wirtgen WR 240i recyclers.

Tensor Systems was assigned a 100km section. The main task was for asphalt paving and civil engineering works, using Vögele pavers and Wirtgen recyclers over a surface area of 1,141,200m² and processing a total volume of 684,720m³.

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