JIMMY CHIBUYE, Sioma
CONSTRUCTION of Zambiaâ€™s first-ever balanced cantilever bridge across the Zambezi River in Sioma district of Western Province is progressing well and the project is 70 percent complete.
A cantilever bridge is a bridge formed by two projecting beams or trusses that are joined in the centre by a connecting member and are supported on piers.
The 252 metre-long link to be called Sioma Bridge is being constructed at a cost of K180.2 million by China Henan International Corporation and supervised by EG Petit.
The cantilever bridge will connect Senanga and Sesheke districts.
Speaking during an inspection of roads and bridges in Western Province on Wednesday, Road Development Agency (RDA) senior manager public relations Loyce Saili said the agency is happy with the progress made on the bridge.
â€œSioma bridge construction works have progressed very well. Overall progress stands at 70 percent to completion and we expect to deliver this project by February next year which is the official end date of the contract,â€ Mrs Saili said.
She said when Sioma Bridge comes into use, the pontoon, which is currently the mode of crossing the river, will be decommissioned.
Mrs Saili said the project is course because the contractor has already finished the foundation or substructures and is now working on the superstructure or the bridge deck.
She said the bridge has been designed to carry both normal and abnormal loads.
Mrs Saili said a local labour force of 152 people have been employed on the project.
Construction of the bridge started in May 2013 and is expected to be completed on February 13 next year.
She said RDA plans to construct 144 bridges across the country under the programme called ACROW.
Mrs Saili said the bridges which are much smaller than the major linkages will be built in all the 10 provinces as a means of providing safer and reliable crossing points.
She said the building of bridges will decommission pontoons, which have their own inherent problems such as limited time of operations and breakdowns.
And Mrs Saili said the construction of the 923 metre-long Kazungula Bridge has commenced.
She said the contractor is currently setting up camp and building a temporary bridge to be used as a platform for launching the actual bridge.
She said the bridge is being built as a joint project between Zambia and Botswana with the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Mrs Saili said the project has been split into three packages namely building of a major bridge across Zambezi River and one-stop border posts in Zambia ad Botswana, respectively.
She said the total cost for package one, which is the main bridge, is US$161 million.
â€œConstruction activities on the Zambian side have started and the contractor is busy setting up camp and has mobilised necessary plan equipment to beginning the construction of the bridge,â€ Mrs Saili said.
She said the contractor is a Korean company called Daewoo Engineering and Corporation working under the supervision of five consultants led by Nipon Koei.
She said the bilateral project connecting Zambia and Botswana will enhance trade between the two countries and decongest traffic flow at the border post.
Mrs Saili said at the moment, 192 people have been employed at the site and over 750 workers are expected to be engaged at the peak of the project.
JIMMY CHIBUYE, Sioma