Caught in traffic: Govt delays in compensating property owners is stalling Mbudzi interchange project

Delayed: A bypass road near the Mbudzi interchange

Delays in compensating property owners are holding up progress at the Mbudzi interchange in Harare, officials say.

The project, awarded to a consortium of local contractors in 2021, will cost US$88 million, which includes about US$35 million set aside to pay off displaced property owners who have title in the area. But the government has only paid a fraction of this, delaying the project.

“The progress made so far is 43%,” Transport and Infrastructural Development Secretary Theodus Chinyanga said at the site this week.

“Most of (the delay) is attributed to the slow movement on compensating those whose properties we have impacted on. But we are doing the best we can and the contractor has enough space to work on. We believe that once we are done with these compensations, we will do a catch-up programme and we will be back on track.”

By the end of 2022, according to earlier reports, the government had only paid US$12 million to some of the 52 owners of industrial, commercial and residential properties near the interchange. At least 95 more homes on the Chitungwiza road need to be moved. As compensation for some displaced home owners, the government committed to building three-roomed core houses, but this is yet to be delivered.

Local Government and two other real estate companies conducted the property evaluations, officials say.

In 2021, the government announced that a consortium of three companies, Tensor, Fossil and Masimba Holdings would build the interchange. The project will be funded through a vendor financing model, with a loan from Fossil gazetted in February this year.

Initially, the contractors planned to complete the project by 2023. However, completion is now only expected in 2024. The interchange will have 13 bridges and 15km of interchange and service outlets.