Cross-border Kazungula Bridge opens

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Looking along the bridge from the railway track

African Development Bank celebrates major Botswana-Zambia collaboration.

The Kazungula Bridge Project has been officially opened by the presidents of Botswana and Zambia. The 923-metre bridge with innovative border facilities on either side is a vital new connection, not only for Botswana and Zambia, but for the wider transport integration of southern Africa.

The bridge and one-stop border posts have been created to support trade and transport along the North-South Corridor and the Trans-African Highway on the Cape to Cairo route. It also serves as a physical manifestation of the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Area.

The opening of the multi-modal bridge over the Zambezi River means trade is no longer limited by the need to rely on pontoon boats crossing at the same location. It has pedestrian walkways, two lanes of highway in both directions and a railway line.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) supported the project through a loan of $76.5m. That funding was alongside finance from the two governments, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund. The total cost of the project was $259.3m, which was approved in December 2011.

The one-stop border post concept is a major step forward for simplifying cross-border checks, removing the conventional need to be checked twice.

Kazungula Bridge Project Manager, Godfrey Songeya explained: “There will be no need to stop twice, as is happening at the moment. Commuters will only stop at the facility of the exit country. We want to ensure that the transit time that is being spent by traders who are using this road is reduced tremendously.”

The project has had a number of wider development implications, such as the rehabilitation of a section of the North-South Corridor in Zambia between Kazungula and Lusaka. Members of the Lumbo community in the vicinity of the bridge have also benefitted from a housing provision, with a relocation to New Lumbo Village with a newly built community school, which will also serve the wider Kazungula community.

The new Kazungula Bridge will be jointly owned by the governments of Zambia and Botswana and funded by toll fees.