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African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka expressed concern over the huge economic cost to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region caused by delays in constructing the Kazungula Bridge, during his visit to the project on Saturday, July 26, 2014. The President saw first-hand, a long queue of trucks waiting to cross from both sides of the border crossing at Kazungula.
Transporters are using old ferries (pontoons) to move goods and vehicles across the Zambezi River at the Kazungula border crossing between Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Kazungula Bridge is a multi-national project on the North-South corridor on the Zambezi River. The bridge construction is expected to take four years at a cost of US $259 million. The project is being funded by loans from the African Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as well as contributions from both the Governments of Zambia and Botswana.
“Kazungula Bridge Project is the most important project that the Bank is currently financing on the continent,” Kaberuka said, adding: “It is unacceptable to have about 100 trucks on either side of the Zambezi River taking up to two weeks at the border posts before crossing.” He stressed the need to accelerate the resolution of any pending procurement and administrative issues delaying the start of bridge construction. On average, 70 trucks cross with the ferry (pontoon) per day.
The AfDB President also visited the Lumbo village housing scheme on the Zambian side where the affected families will be resettled in the newly built permanent houses as compensation.
Kaberuka visited the Botswana side of the border and held meetings with Botswanan and Zambian authorities at Muwana Resort in Chobe at Kasane. In a briefing meeting at Kasane, Kaberuka pledged the Bank’s continued support to this project. He further stated that the Bank stands ready to bridge any financing gap should the two governments approach the Bank for further assistance.
Accompanying the President were Robert Sichinga, Zambia’s Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry, and Nonofo Molefhi, Botswana’s Minister of Transport and Communication. Also in the delegation were Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications, Mwimba Malama, and Permanent Secretaries from Zambia and Botswana responsible for Transport and Communications.