Khato loses K1.8 trillion road project

Zimbabwe has cancelled a US$2 billion (about 1.8 trillion Malawi Kwacha) road project it had with Malawi’s richest man alive.

The Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway links Zimbabwe to the trans-African highway linking Gaborone in Botswana to Pretoria in South Africa.

Khato Civils, owned by Malawian businessman Simbi Phiri,  was awarded a contract in 2019 to dualise the highway.

Zimbabwean media reports indicate that the Government of Zimbabwe has cancelled the contract. According to the reports, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is the one who pushed for the cancellation last week.

The move came two months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa expressed concerns over delay by the contractor to start the project.

Zimbabwean news site, Chronicle, reported in November last year that Mnangagwa, during a Zanu-PF rally in Beitbridge, condemned the contractor over the delay, saying it had been more than a year since the company was awarded the tender.

“I was talking to Vice President Chiwenga about that road and we reckon the contractor might be lacking resources, now we are considering giving that tender to someone who will be able to deliver,” said Mnangagwa.

In Malawi, Khato was in 2016 awarded the Salima-Lilongwe water project to extract water from Lake Malawi to Lilongwe.

The $306 million (about K275 billion) project is yet to start as the company and the government of Malawi have been failing to agree on a financier to provide a concessional loan.

World Bank rebuffs Malawi over ‘Khato’ water project