Construction of the long-awaited Kazungula Bridge project between Botswana and Zambia officially commenced on september 12, 2014.
Upon completion, the bridge will support the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, which connects to seaports in the eastern part of the region to the western part. A South Korean Company, Daewoo E&C signed a USD 162 million about (P1.4 billion) contract with the governments of Botswana and Zambia to build the first phase of the Kazungula Bridge project in Livingstone, Zambia.
Phase I of the construction comprises of the bridge and Railway component. Initially japan International Cooperation Agency (jICA) was supposed to have invested over $110 million into the whole project but pulled out at the last minute over disagreements with the technical evaluation of the bids for the bridge.
The unexpected change of heart by the japanese agency has left the government of Botswana and Zambia with a funding gap on the project. As a result, the Public Relations officer at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Kgomotso Makwati says the funding gap for Botswana after jICA pulled out amounted to USD 81 million about (P688.5 million).
Makwati said that the Government of Botswana would get the finance from the Domestic Development Fund. Funded by loans from African Development Bank, jICA as well as contributions from both the governments of Zambia and Botswana. Kazungula Bridge is an important project for both countries and the region. “Likewise, the Government of Zambia will find alternative source of funding to fill the financing gap.”
However, with the disagreement confined to the bids for the bridge component only, jICA is still expected to fund other components of the project. Upon completion, the Kazungula Bridge is expected to ease movement of goods and services between Zambia and the southern region. The bridge construction project including the one stop border posts, as well as relocation of villagers on the Zambian side is expected to take four years at a cost of US$259 million (P2.3 billion). japan has allocated over US$35 million for the development of the bridge and one-stop border post on the Zambian side.