Japan extends US$17.4m grant for Makuti-Chirundu stretch

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Itai Ndongwe

HARARE – The Japanese government has extended a grant of US$ 17.4 million to Zimbabwe for upgrading of high gradients on the Makuti-Chirundu stretch under Phase 2 of the Road Improvement of the Northern Part of the North-South Corridor Project

Mthuli Ncube, Finance and Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, and  Shinichi Yamanaka, Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, signed the exchange notes today in the capital.

Japanese grants are non-reimbursable monies made available to a recipient country to help it obtain products and/or services for economic and social development. In the first phase, Japan provided US$21 million to rehabilitate a 6.5-kilometer portion between Marongora and Hell’s Gate.

The North-South Corridor is an important international trunk road for Zimbabwe’s trade with surrounding countries and regional trade, and the AU predicts it will become one of the continent’s busiest transport corridors by 2040.

 The phase 2 project will enhance the remaining 7.8km segment between Makuti and Marongora, which will be overseen by JICA engineers and carried out by road-working teams from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development’s Department of Roads.

With the completion of the road project, greater volumes of goods are expected to be transported through Zimbabwe’s most important highway, thereby playing a key role in the country’s economic development. With the increased promotion of regional economic integration through SADC and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA), it has become even more important to facilitate trade with neighbouring countries.

Commenting during the signing ceremony, the Finance Minister noted that Phase 2 of the Road Improvement of the Northern Part of the North-South Corridor Project will see the construction of climbing lanes and widening of sharp curves, which will add to the already accrued benefits from Phase 1 of the project by reducing the number of accidents as it will allow smooth flow of traffic and safe overtaking of slow moving traffic.
“The project will also go a long way in improving ease of doing business by smoothing the flow of traffic, thereby reducing the time spent on the road for transit trucks and trucks delivering products to and from the country. Once again, I am grateful for this support, which amounts to Japanese Yen 2,389 million (approximately . US$17.44 million).”

The Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Yamanaka, also said that the other works in phase 2 include the construction of drainage and safety facilities such as crash barriers and road signs.

“The aim of both phase 1 and phase 2 projects is to reduce traffic accidents, relieve traffic congestion, and shorten travel time in this dangerous sector. It is envisaged that, through this project, this section’s transit time will be reduced by around 9 minutes, the number of accidents will be reduced from 61 per year to 10, and there will be a safe and smooth passage, as well as an increased capacity of approximately 610 000 passengers and 5.18 million metric tonnes of cargo per year.
“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.”

Furthermore, the Japanese government made a donation to the country by procuring and donating two ambulances by the end of 2023, which were deployed to Mbire and Guruve districts as part of the Covid-19 infection prevention project for vulnerable women and girls in drought-affected districts.

In January 2024, it also disbursed $774 000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for Emergency Cholera Response. The Grant targeted Manicaland Province’s most vulnerable communities, providing a comprehensive range of life-saving support, with a focus on the rehabilitation of sustainable, climate resilient boreholes to ensure a long-term supply of safe water and critical hygiene materials, as well as healthcare, nutrition, child protection, and other essential social services.

The Japanese government has also sponsored the following fertiliser procurement measures in 2023 under the Economic and Social Development Programme, totaling around US$4.7 million, with the goal of protecting disadvantaged small-scale farmers from rising global fertiliser prices.

GMB Aspindale received the first batch of Compound D on February 5, 2024, and Ammonium Nitrate is slated to arrive on or around March 21, 2024.

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