Construction of the much anticipated P1.4 billion Kazungula Bridge is expected to start early next year, after the two hosting countries, Botswana and Zambia, last week signed a contract agreement with the contractor, Daewoo Engineering and Construction.
The Korean multinational last week announced that it had been awarded the tender to construct the bridge, connecting Zambia and Botswana, at a price of US$161, 961 million (P1.4 billion).
The bridge project is expected to boost Daewoo E&C’s forays into Southern Africa, as the company endeavors to expand its influence in the region and exploit the Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s ambitious infrastructure development projects. The project will also facilitate trade between Botswana, Zambia and the SADC region by reducing the number of days taken by truckers at the Kazungula border from six days to six hours, improving border management operations and reducing time-based trade and transport costs. Statistics show that the project will reduce vehicle operating costs by US$ 3,756,367 for passenger vehicles and US$ 2,350,100 for trucks per year by the year 2020. The multi-million dollar project will connect the North-South corridor through a 923m long by 18.5m wide rail/road bridge on the border between Botswana and Zambia, which lies at the confluence of the Chobe and the Zambezi Rivers, as well as two one stop border facilities, access roads and ramps.
The project will also ease the flow of business in the Southern Africa region. Botswana and Zambia have been using a ferry to move goods, people and other services to and from either sides of the Chobe river, known on the Zambian side as the Zambezi. The ferry service posed a serious bottleneck to smooth flow of traffic and hampered full development of trade between the two nations and the SADC region. The two nations last week signed a Contract Agreement for the bride project, which is expected to commence next year and take four years to complete.
Daewoo E&C Vice-President, Kim Hong Gou, was quoted in the Sunday Post, a Zambian publication, saying the company will do its best to complete the bridge within the projected four-year period and ensure that environmental and safety measures are taken into consideration. Gou was briefing the media after the construction contract signing ceremony that was held at Protea Hotel in Livingstone, Zambia.
“Currently, we are here to make preparations for the project. After signing, part of the delegation will be here to prepare. We should be able to start next year. From now up to end of this year, we will be mobilizing for construction of the project,” he said.
Daewoo E&C has undertaken hydro-power projects, housing projects and harbor construction projects in North America, Libya, Algeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Botswana and Sudan. Goitsemang Morekisi, Transport Hub Coordinator in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, represented Botswana at the signing. She revealed that the project was made up of four components and what was being signed for was the actual bridge construction while the other three components, which she could not give their actual figures, were still under tender.
“This is the time when a lot of work is really beginning. We are going to be working with the consultants and the contractor on a daily basis to deliver the bridge,” she said.
The publication also quoted the Director of the Zambia Road Development Agency, Bernard Chiwala saying that with the signing ceremony confirmed, Zambia was truly being transformed into a land-linked country. The bridge construction component is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the governments of Botswana and Zambia. Vice President Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe and his Zambian counter-part, Vice-President Dr Guy Scott, will perform the groundbreaking ceremony next week. The expected time-savings from the project amount to US$ 1.4 per vehicle/hour for private cars and US$ 11.1 per vehicle/hour for buses and another US$ 2.45 per vehicle/hour for trucks. The project will also benefit SADC and harness trade by improving regional connectivity of the North South Transport Corridor, complementing regional integration, improving the region’s trade competitiveness and creating employment opportunities. The Kazungula Bridge project is expected to employ up to 500 people during construction and another 100 people to operate and manage the bridge after completion. In addition to the loan, JICA has pledged to provide to Botswana with technical assistance worth US$ 6 million, which will cover capacity building in the form of project management, and operations of the one-stop border post.