Africanews, 10 May 2021. A road and rail bridge linking Botswana and Zambia was inaugurated on Monday -- marking the completion of a multi-million-dollar project aimed at easing congestion at border crossings throughout the southern African region. The curved Kazungula bridge, which stretches for 923 metres (some 3,000 feet) over the Zambezi River, provides a long-needed alternative route for hauliers.
The historic event of the official opening of the Kazungula Bridge is true testimony of how the deepening regional integration happening within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). President of Botswana Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his counterpart President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, officially opened the bridge. The occasion is graced by President Félix Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chair of the African Union, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique and Chair of SADC, President Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe. Dr. Nangolo Mbumba, Vice President of Namibia, Honourable Senator Themba Masuku, Acting Prime Minister of Eswatini, and Her Excellency Ms. Rosemary Mashaba, High Commissioner of South Africa to Botswana.
The economies of both Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and DR Congo will never be the same again, they will experience drastic improvement indeed. The Kazungula Bridge shows what's possible with effective leadership.Transformation is possible when corruption & looting stop.Our natural resources must benefit us. A Great Zimbabwe with the best spaghetti roads, motorways, bridges & border posts is possible!
The example of Kazungula Bridge demonstrates what's going to happen on the continent if Zimbabwe continues on the path it's on. We will be left behind. Sadly, those that rule spend all their energy on silencing progress instead of building the nation. "This will lower the cost of doing business," Zambia's President Edgar Lungu said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, anticipating "an increase in trade and competitiveness, job creation, tourism and other positive ripple effects".
Construction of the $259 million (213 million euros) project began in December 2014, co-funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), regional governments and other grants. Namibia and Zimbabwe joined the consortium in 2018.
The bridge will facilitate intra-regional freight transport by allowing trucks to bypass the notorious Beitbridge border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa, which is perennially congested, with vehicles spending hours and sometimes days queueing to cross. At Monday's ceremony, Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the bridge would "open avenues for improved trade". And Zimbabwe's leader Emmerson Mnangagwa hailed what he called a "milestone achievement" for the region.
The current leader of the African Union and president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, attended the event.