With less than 18 months to the kick off of the Fifa showpiece in South Africa, the luxury 120-bedroom hotel alongside the Limpopo River, planned to open in time to accommodate football fans, was halted, due to cholera hitting the workers, shortages of fuel at the border town and complications arising from dollarization of Zimbabwe’s economy.
The life-threatening water-borne cholera epidemic hit the labour camp of Costain Zimbabwe, main contractors on the project. With seven workers already infected, the site was shut and remaining craftsmen sent home early for Christmas.
Civil works (building of service roads, pathways and installation of utilities) on the hotel, catering for up to 300 guests, were due to be completed before the local building industry closed mid-December for a month, a traditional year-end holiday.
But this early preparatory phase of construction wasn’t completed by deadline date, as work was totally stopped.
South African World Cup officials asked Zimbabwe to supply 2 000 hotel rooms to cater for a projected overspill and accommodation shortage in South Africa during, immediately before and after the premier football event.
Meanwhile in Harare, RTG operations chief, Lewis Chasakara, said early closing of the site was disappointing but the hotel group was confident of getting the project back on schedule.
He said RTG fully intended to open in good time to benefit from World Cup spill-over demand for rooms.