CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Kazungula
WORKS on the construction of the US$259 million Kazungula Bridge between Zambia and Botswana have advanced with about 35 percent done so far.
The works, which are being undertaken by Daewoo Engineering Company, started in 2015 and are expected to be completed in 2019.
Daewoo Engineering Company bridge construction consultant Joseph Nyirenda assured the nation that the works will be completed on schedule as extra working hours are being invested to compensate for the lost time.
Mr Nyirenda said the two-month delay in the commencement of the project was as a result of excessive rains and broken-down equipment whose spare parts are sourced abroad.
This came to light during a media tour of the bridge, which is under construction to commemorate the annual Southern African Development Community (SADC) day which has coincided with the SADC heads of state and government meeting which President Lungu is expected to attend in South Africa.
“We will cover up for the lost time. Some works are being done in the night,” he said.
Mr Nyirenda said the bridge will increase traffic flow and that trucks carrying cargo to Zambia and Botswana will be cleared in less than a day instead of seven days.
He said Kazungula is a strategic place for the construction of the multimillion-dollar project as it is at a point where Zambia and Botswana interface and connect to other SADC countries.
And Southern Province permanent secretary Sibanze Simuchoba said the project is an important economic infrastructure which will enhance trade between Zambia and Botswana and the entire region through increased the trade activities.
He said the bridge, which will also have a rail track between two road traffic lanes and pedestrian sidewalks, will help preserve the lifespan of Zambian roads as some bulk and heavy goods will be transported by rail.
“The people of Southern Province will also find it easier to cross into Botswana because whenever you have a border like this, you always have people with relatives on either side of the border and this enhances socio-economic activities between the two countries.
“The completion of the bridge may result in extended border operating hours which is beneficial to the economy,” he said.
And Road Development Agency (RDA) acting communication and corporate director Anthony Mulowa said the bridge project is progressing and will also see the construction of one-stop border facilities in Kazungula and Kasane in Zambia and Botswana respectively.
Mr Mulowa said the construction phase of the bridge has created about 450 jobs for both Zambians and Tswanas.