Zimbabwe has awarded a lucrative aviation deal to one of China’s largest state-owned entities, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
The process of replacing the outdated aviation technology was amplified by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in his 2021 National Budget last year when he underscored that Zimbabwe was losing potential revenue due to the obsolete infrastructure.
Transport and Infrastructure Development secretary Thedius Chinyanga confirmed the deal when he spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview this week.
Chinyanga said CHEC had been identified as the most suitable company through a proper procurement process but negotiations over the terms of the contract were underway. He said:
The procurement process on that project was done but the signing of the contract has not yet been done,” he said, without elaborating on the terms and conditions of the agreement.
This comes after in 2016 the Joint Operations Command (JOC), comprised of the military, police, and intelligence chiefs supported the overturning of the US$33 million tender that had been awarded to a Spanish firm Indra Sistemas.
The deal with Indra Sistemas was terminated on the grounds that the tender did not go through procedures as prescribed by law.
Indra Sistemas also did not pass a critical security vetting process by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
After Zimbabwe’s radar system broke down in 2019, the Joint Command convened meetings to establish a way forward.
CHEC will not be the first Chinese company to work in Zimbabwe as there are other Chinese firms that are already rolling out massive airport expansion projects in the country.
Currently, Jiangsu International, a company from China is rolling out the US$153 million Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expansion project to increase the airport’s holding capacity to six million people per annum from 2,5 million.
The firm also undertook the US$150 million Victoria Falls expansion project.
More: The Independent