After almost 6 years, a major bridge is nearing completion which will connect Zambia and Botswana and ultimately the port of Durban in South Africa to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
By the end of 2020 the much anticipated R3.9 billion, 923 meter-long Kazungula bridge, which is a vital part of Africa’s North-South Corridor, is expected to be open to the public.
Located at the spot where the Chobe and the mighty Zambezi river meet, the bridge is a crucial logistical linkage for freight in and out of the copper belt, reported FTWonline.
Using satellite images from PlanetLabs we are able to track its progress:
The route is a notorious bottleneck for transport as commuters and freighters alike need to make their way across the river by ferry, the main mode of transport. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), which funded $51 million (R771 million) into the project, it can mean delays of up to 8 days, severely impacting trade throughout the region. The remaining balance is shared between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (57.5%), governments (9.2%) and EU-ITF Grant (1.8%).
The project, which began construction in 2014, is expected to be completed on 30 December 2020, reports AfDB.
Kazungula bridge will include a single-line railway track, as well as a paved section for pedestrians to cross, reports The South African.
But while it has taken almost 6 years to build, the opening of the bridge is almost two years behind. The project was expected to be completed in 2018, however, the project was brought to a halt when it was alleged that Zambian government failed to meet loan repayments, reported FTWonline.
The bridge plays an important role for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to create ‘One-Stop Border Posts’ at Kazungula; Nakonde/Tunduma which links the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia; and the Mwami/Mchinji which links Zambia and Malawi.
They have been funneling billions into other critical infrastructure upgrades such as the new Walvis Bay Container Terminal in Namibia and associated Dry Ports, rehabilitation and upgrading of critical sections of the Regional Trunk Road Networks in most regional corridors.