Masimba Holdings Limited talks about the new Eastgate SME market

MASIMBA Holdings Limited, T/A Masimba Construction Zimbabwe (Masimba), is a well-established Zimbabwean contracting and industrial group, providing innovative engineering and infrastructure client solutions to the agriculture, commercial, communications, housing, mining, water and public sectors within the Southern African region. The company was previously called Murray and Roberts (Zimbabwe) Limited, who have a proud history of nearly a century in construction and engineering projects across the region. So despite a relatively recent name change the corporation and their dedicated staff have undoubtedly the most experienced and specialised skills pool of any similar company in the country.

Just a few of their recent projects include the JMN International Airport and Nkulumane Shopping Centre in Bulawayo, Three Anchor House and the Old Mutual Centre in Harare, the Theology Department and the Health Sciences block at Africa University in Mutare, as well as various embassies, banks and government buildings, industrial buildings and medical facilities. Masimba have also been the main contractors for a variety of different housing projects ranging from luxury cluster homes to low cost housing projects. They have successfully completed shopping malls and hotels from Beitbridge in the south to Victoria Falls in the north.

Other projects include Mining, Water, Energy and Transport infrastructure. The company currently employs around 800 people in fields as diverse as project management, quantity surveying, engineering and steel work, surveyors as well as a large contingent of skilled and semi-skilled workers like brick layers and carpenters. In addition Masimba has a well-developed corporate social responsibility programme. They provide extensive bursary training programmes in the fields of quantity surveying, civil engineering, information technology, and purchasing and finance disciplines. They also sponsor employees on various leadership and technical training programmes and support employees with membership to their line of professional bodies.

Group policy dictates that the company spends 2% of its payroll cost on training, so they are looking to build Zimbabwe in terms of manpower and skills and not just bricks and mortar. Masimba offers industrial attachments to students from various tertiary institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands States University, and National University of Science and Technology, the Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare Technical Colleges as well as National Vocational Training Centres. Masimba is currently the main contractor for the exciting new Eastgate SME market in Harare. Michael Nott spoke to Masimba on behalf of Structure and Design magazine about their involvement in the new development. The development is financed by Old Mutual as part of their vision to uplift and invigorate Harare’s Central Business District.

Work on the project started in early 2016 and construction is now in full swing and expected to be completed in April next year. The project is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe and the region. (See Structure and Design issue 6 which featured the concept behind the new development.) The new marketplace has been designed by local architect Mick Pearce – world renowned for the design of the main Eastgate Mall – and it’s expected to radically change the way vendors and small scale businesses operate in the city centre.

Structure and Design (S&D): Were there any particularly difficult problems in preparing the site? There were a lot of older existing buildings which had to be demolished. Was it difficult to accomplish the demolition in such a confined space with busy roads around?

Masimba Construction (MC): The demolition contract was awarded prior to the main works and this was done by others. The only problem we encountered was demolition of underground concrete – this involved existing foundations, ground floor concrete slabs and other concrete structures below ground. We had to break through these structures for us to install foundation piles, bases, ground beams and also underground services namely sewer and storm water pipes. This demolition slowed down foundation works since the amount of concrete encountered was not envisaged.

S&D: Were there problems getting heavy machinery onto site – like cranes or front end loaders?

MC: Traffic was a problem, especially during peak hour, for delivery of bricks, cement and concrete aggregates. We however resorted to delivering plant and materials to site during off-peak hours. In addition we faced problems on Wynne Street where the car washing vendors along this street have been reluctant to move from the parking bays and this resulted in a restricted passage of normal and delivery traffic.

S&D: Were there any challenges presented by the existing buildings on all four sides?

MC: There was no problem with existing buildings and our construction methods took this into account. S&D: How did you manage to get large quantities of materials onto site?

MC: Our planning entailed that we had enough material on site for targeted activities, so we did not have to over stockpile material on site. In any case we used evenings and early morning to move materials to site.

S&D: Were the excavations for foundations difficult?

MC: The only reason the foundations became difficult to install was because of the existing buried concrete floor and other concrete structures that we encountered during excavations. We had to employ chemical blasting techniques and specialised excavator mounted hydraulic hammers to break some of the concrete. We could not use conventional blasting methods due to the project being in the CBD and the proximity of the surrounding buildings.

S&D: The progress of the construction has been very fast so far. Was this because Masimba are well organised and have excellent project managers?

MC: Progress of construction has been fast because of programme coordination strategies put in place between ourselves, the project managers, consultants and the architect Mick Pearce.

S&D: Did Masimba manage to source most from which suppliers?

MC: The majority of the materials were locally sourced and the following is a list of some of the key supply partners on the project:-

S&D: How long has the project taken so far and when is it scheduled to be completed?

MC: It has been eight months since we started and the project is expected to be completed by 30 April 2017

S&D: Did you need different construction crews for – bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, electrics? How many different crews did you need to oversee and supervise? MC: We needed different crews for different tasks e.g. excavation, concrete works, shuttering, reinforcement, bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, electrics, structural steel installation, roof sheeting and roller shutter doors.

S&D: Can you tell me a bit about the history of the company and the change over from Murray and Roberts to Masimba?

MC: Masimba is an established clientfocused civil engineering and building construction company serving the Southern African region. It carries out work in the following fields of construction:-

• Civil Engineering

• Roads and Earthworks

• Buildings

• Housing

• Structural Steel – Fabric


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