The US$259 million Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River and One Stop Border Post facilities connecting Botswana and Zambia were commissioned on 10th May 2021, paving the way for enhanced Southern African Development Community (SADC) integration and development replacing the age-old pontoon ferry which was used to carry haulage trucks across the river.
The Kazungula Bridge is expected to link the port of Durban in South Africa to the DRC and the United Republic of Tanzania through the North-South Corridor to facilitate seamless and efficient movement of goods and persons, and in doing so reduce cost of doing business, contribute to industrialization, and enhance trade and SADC regional integration.
The 929-long bridge and state-of-the-art facilities were officially commissioned by the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi, and the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, at a colourful ceremony at the quadriphonic point across the Zambezi River where Botswana and Zambia meet Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The commissioning of the bridge as well as the opening of the One Stop Border Post linking Botswana and Zambia is expected to link and smoothen the movement of people, goods and services not only between the two countries, but also within the entire SADC Region, subsequently to COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Regions, and eventually African continent through the corridor approach that has been adopted by COMESA, the East African Community (EAC), SADC, and AU.
Speaking at the commissioning, H.E President Tshisekedi said the construction of the bridge by Botswana and Zambia subscribes to one of the AU’s fundamental initiatives of regional integration with the aim of having one African market.
“This gigantic piece of engineering is in line with the African Union’s strategic ideals of developing infrastructure in transportation that will help us realize the dream of economic integration,” he said.
H.E President Nyusi said the project will not only benefit the two countries, but the entire SADC Region, further enhancing regional integration.
“The infrastructure is a materialization of the SADC dream of removing boundaries and barriers between Member States, especially in tourism,” said President Nyusi,
He added that the project is in line with the regional approach to development as espoused in the SADC development agenda.
He further said the bridge offers a faster alternative route to Beitbridge and will help alleviate the congestion at one of Africa’s busiest borders. The improved border management due to the OSBP is expected to significantly reduce freight and passenger transit time
The ceremony was witnessed by the Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E Felix Tshisekedi Tsilombo; the Chairperson of SADC, H.E President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique; the President of Zimbabwe, H.E Emmerson Mnangagwa; Vice President of Namibia, Dr Nangolo Mbumba, the Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax; and the Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Her Excellency Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe among other dignitaries from the SADC Region.