The Department of Roads in Zimbabwe has appointed European project management and engineering consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV to carry out a feasibility study to determine the viability of the construction and tolling of the Harare-Beitbridge Road in order to improve the stretch.

The expected cost of rehabilitating and improving the 40-year-old 580km road is more than $600m, some of which will be funded as a loan against revenue from the tolls.

To be conducted in association with five Zimbabwean partner firms, the study will include traffic studies, development of a toll strategy, engineering analysis and concept design, and environmental impact scoping.

It will also involve an economic feasibility study, financial modelling and preparation of draft project information memorandum for investors.

The Harare – Beitbridge Road is a part of the country’s trunk road network and North – South Corridor, one of the major links in the regional road network.

The road is a single carriageway with two lanes and several bridges, acting as a direct link between the capital cities of Harare and Pretoria and providing Zambia with access to the Indian Ocean ports of Durban and Richards Bay in South Africa.

"The expected cost of rehabilitating and improving the 40-year-old 580km road is more than $600m."

Royal HaskoningDHV project manager Phil Hasluck said that the road carries between 1,000 and 5,000 vehicles per day with the heavier flows in the proximity of Harare.

"Of significance is the fact that a high proportion of this traffic is trucks that are carrying goods, equipment and machinery that are needed to support the Zimbabwean economic recovery" Hasluck added.

The study will assess alternatives to improve the Harare-Beitbridge stretch as a single carriageway road or to add certain sections as dual carriageways.

Following the feasibility project, potential funders such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the African Development Bank will make a decision about provision of funds by March 2013.