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Mvuma-Manhize town plan approved

Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries chief operating officer Dosman Mangisi

GOVERNMENT has approved a plan for the development of a new town between Mvuma-Chivhu and Manhize in the Midlands Province amid growing interest from industrialists, banks and other service providers to be part of the massive project.

The new town, which is set to be a game changer for the country, will be established for about 30 000 residents and the site plan will be made public soon.

The US$1,5 billion integrated iron and steel plant being constructed in Mvuma by Chinese firm Dinson Iron and Steel Company (Disco), which is envisaged to be one of the biggest in Africa, represents a huge stepping stone in Zimbabwe’s modernisation and industrialisation agenda.

Disco is a subsidiary of Tsingshan Holdings, the world’s largest stainless steel producer which is building Africa’s biggest integrated steel plant whose first blast furnace is expected to be switched on at the end of September.

The steel plant was commissioned by President Mnangagwa, paving the way for construction works that started last year.

The world-class iron and steel plant would tap into a resource base that is estimated to last 100 years.

The integrated project, which comprises a carbon and steel plant, an iron ore mine, and a ferrochrome plant will also result in over 10 000 people benefiting through employment across value chains.

Buildings have emerged out of thick forests where staff houses, warehouses, blast furnaces and a cement mixing plant are nearing completion.

Equipped with a 1,5km-by-600-metre carbon and steel plant, an iron ore mine, and a ferrochrome plant, the project will have a capacity of 1,2 million tonnes a year.

In an interview on the sidelines of a tour of the construction site by industrialists and banks on Friday, project director Mr Wilfred Motsi said a new town will be built with different land uses and opportunities for bankers and industrialists.

The industrialists and banks toured the construction site to get a first hand feel of progress on the ground ahead of the November deadline for the blast furnace to be switched on as well as the approval of the new town site plans which will require huge investments by the private sector.

Mr Motsi said the response from stakeholders has been overwhelming as the project has attracted interest from across all sectors.

“We are working closely with the Government, especially the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works who are working on the plan for the development of the new town. The site plan has been approved,” he said.

“We should start construction and we need stakeholders such as industrialists and banks to come on board so that we can develop the new town.”

Mr Motsi said Disco owns part of the land on which the new town would be developed while the other belongs to Chirumhanzu Rural District Council.

“The land for the new site is there. As Disco we bought some of the land which means title deeds that are demanded by banks or financial institutions are readily available to potential buyers,” he said.

Mr Motsi said Disco’s core business is iron and steel production while the rest of the land is open for other players to come and invest.

“We will have an industrial park for value addition especially for foundries to make other finished products that are in demand in the country,” he said.

The plant project, Mr Motsi said, is going according to plan and is now 70 percent complete with all the mechanical equipment being fitted.

“The super infrastructure itself is almost complete. As you can see we are doing panel fittings in the blast furnace. This is one of the biggest projects and we are working according to timelines. We are saying by November this year we will be starting production at this plant,” he said.

Zimbabwe Institute of Foundries chief operating officer Dosman Mangisi said the proposed new town will create a lot of opportunities for the business sector.

“The physical planning department in the Ministry of Local Government has since visited the site and approved the new town plans. Zimbabwe will never be the same again,” he said.

“Looking into this big picture, you need to picture Redcliff town which was born out of Ziscosteel, but this new town will actually be threefold. In fact, it will be a big city and we will have banks, schools, recreational facilities, hospitals and a lot of companies including industries around the steel mining.”

Mr Mangisi said the steelwork project will be the hub of all raw materials for the foundries sector.

He said Disco will stimulate the metal industry in the country bringing life into small-scale miners.

“Disco will be the biggest foundry in the country and it will also be the centre of raw materials. We have already engaged them for raw materials like ferro-chrome, pig iron, iron and steel, and coking coal once they start production,” said Mr Mangisi.

“The company’s existence will bring the cost of doing business down as companies are currently importing iron and steel as well as other related products.”

Mr Mangisi said the country will reduce the steel import bill of US$3 billion once the company starts production.

“At the moment, 75 percent of steel that is being used in the country is being imported and we want to cut on that. Talk of ball joints and tie rod ends, and we are saying in the next five years we should be making them ourselves,” he said.

“We will be dealing with quality raw materials. When we cast these metals we consider sustainability and human life and all of them will be done above board. Zimbabwe will start to see itself as the biggest player in the metal industry with a lot of downstream industries benefiting.”

Mr Chakunda Garainashe, who was representing POSB bank, said there are a lot of opportunities that will be realised at Disco and the new city.

“We are seeing a lot of potential for us as a bank and we want to be actively involved in the development and growth of this town because there is a huge opportunity for everyone. We have a whole new town to be constructed and our focus is to bank all Disco’s stakeholders, and this company will create value chain benefits and stakeholders will benefit,” he said.

Mr Garainashe said they will prioritise mortgage financing for workers to construct houses and other social amenities.

Nyaradzo Life Assurance Company general manager Mr Patrick Mhuka said even in death, residents of the new city will require a decent burial.

“We are here as Nyaradzo to offer the best funeral policies for the workers and the residents of the new city. We also see a great business here,” he said.

CBZ divisional director for business banking, Mr Paul Chimudzi, said they are also excited to be playing a role in the development of the new city.

President Mnangagwa said the project would also result in the construction of other enabling infrastructure including a dam, roads, railway track, power line, bridges, schools, health facilities and modern houses.

Among other infrastructural development projects to come as a result of the Manhize steelworks, is the construction of a 50-kilometre railway line from Mvuma to the steel plant.

Disco has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government to undertake refurbishment and construction of a 1000km long railway system to provide a dedicated, reliable, uninterrupted, and efficient railway line to facilitate the movement of the company’s products for local and export-imports routes.

Herald

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