Esor Zimbabwe is jointly owned by Zimbabwean investors and the South African based Esor Group. It operates in a largely autonomous way although the directors still report to Esor SA and are able to draw on their skills and experience. Esor Zimbabwe was previously known as Zimfranki Projects (wholly owned by the South African Esor Group).
Esor and Franki were amalgamated in South Africa and listed on the JSE. Zimfranki stopped operating locally in around 2004 due to the economic downturn but resumed work in around 2011. However Esor later sold out the Franki section of the corporation although they kept their Zimbabwe office which is still operational today. In 2013, in compliance with indigenous legislation, Esor sold 51% of the Esor Zimbabwe business to English Breeze Investments, a 100% indigenous company.
The Esor group is widely known throughout the SADC region as leaders in the field of specialist geotechnical services, as well as in the construction of roads and earthworks, civil engineering and pipeline construction. From their background in sub-surface foundation work Esor Zimbabwe has recently expanded into to include above surface engineering and construction work.
The Esor group has achieved the highest possible ratings in construction from the CIFOZ as well as SABS 9001, and OSHAS 18001 and ISO 14001 Health and Safety Occupational Certification, empowering Esor to tender for construction projects of unlimited size and value throughout the region and to draw on a vast and diversified set of skills.
Recent projects in Zimbabwe include the foundation work for the Eastgate SME market and the Lupane State University as well as a number of joint ventures with, R. Davis & Co, and water and sewerage reticulation for ZINWA including the construction of reservoirs, pipelines and pumping stations. Other projects include piling for private houses (notably an impressive project in Borrowdale Brooke), warehouses and commercial ventures.
One of their latest projects to be completed is the impressive Metro Peech & Brown and Meat Market warehouse and retail outlet along the Seke Road on the corner of Boshoff Drive. The huge new construction is very imposing and impossible to miss. Its 180m x 40m and stands at height of 12m at the peak of the roof, with ample paved parking space on both the Seke Road side and the Boschoff Drive side. Currently construction is complete (bar the usual few snags and finishing touches) and the tenants are busy fitting out and stocking the interior in time for their imminent official opening.
With no other commercial retail venture of a similar type and scale in the area it promises to alter the shopping opportunities for locals as well as for the workers and residents in the whole southern region including Sunningdale, Parktown, Mbare and the surrounding suburbs. In fact, it promises to draw both wholesale retailers and household shoppers from across Harare looking for an enormous range of products at very competitive prices.
The project was designed in conjunction with Engineer Valentine Zvomuya from UIP (Urban Infrastructure Projects Africa), initially built on spec by a local property developer but later with some input requirements from the prospective tenants. Work began on site towards the end of 2018 and was mostly completed by mid-2020, despite delays caused by the Corona pandemic.
Although the construction process was fairly straightforward it was not without some initial complications. The northern end of the site was particularly rocky with granite outcrops necessitating some controlled blasting to establish the foundations. The site is in close proximity to both residential and commercial areas so blasting needed to be carefully monitored. In addition the geographical nature of the site meant that the existing rock formations tended to hold underground water in the substrate making it necessary to install fairly extensive pilings for structural stability and geotechnical membranes to ensure water impermeability.
Although approved by EMA the structure is built on a delicate site with unstable soil that’s prone to waterlogging, but Esor has succeeded in mitigating these disadvantages. Substructure engineering is, after all, their main area of expertise. Once the hardstand was established the above ground structure was fairly straightforward.
After the foundations were in place a concrete slab was cast in conjunction with Scribante Concrete and Specialized Flooring who provided the polished concrete finish. The floor is strong enough to support heavy shelving and stacking systems as well as small fork lift trucks to move products around the warehouse.
In addition to the earthworks and fairly extensive piling the majority of the building work was done by Esor’s construction team including the brick work for the exterior walls and the interior office section, as well as the exterior roadwork and paving and the retaining wall on the northern side of the parking space. Pat Dunn and Mark Futter (PDMF) was subcontracted to supply the steel work and the Chromadek sheeting for the top section of the walls and the roof.
The roof is an A-frame shape spanning 40m and 12m high in the centre with the steel trusses supported by a single row steel columns, allowing for the maximum amount of unencumbered floor space. Numerous skylights have been punched through to provide natural lighting with supplementary electrical lighting supplied by Tektronix (Pvt) Ltd.
The front façade – facing Seke Road – is broken up by huge roller shutter doors which will provide access for shoppers while the rear of the building has similar roller shutter doors for deliveries of stock. The roller shutters were supplied by PDMF. Huge logos for Metro Peech & Brown and the Meat Market make the new branch very visible from both Seke Road and Boschoff Drive and will no doubt help to draw in enormous numbers of shoppers and traders.
The new complex promises to provide unprecedented convenience and accessibility for the large number of workers in the industrial site as well as for residents from the surrounding suburbs. There has been little recent development in gritty Graniteside so the project is set to become a unique icon and a welcome addition to Harare’s southern suburbs.
-text by Michael Nott
-photos by Structure and Design
Architects & Engineers – UIP
Project Managers & Main Contractor – ESOR