GOVERNMENT is happy with the progress of works being done on the US$161,961,304.84 Kazungula bridge being constructed jointly by Botswana and Zambia.
Deputy minister of Finance Christopher Mvunga, who conducted a tour of the construction works yesterday, said once completed the project, which links Zambia to Botswana, would facilitate easier intra- SADC trade.
Mr. Mvunga said once the bridge was completed, it was expected to eliminate inefficiencies and bring on board additional benefits in terms of trade in the Southern African corridor as transportation of goods across the Zambezi River would be expidited.
“Trucks staying here (Kazungula border) for an extended period of time is a cost to the business community, so if we have a one point border post, there will be an efficient turnaround of trucks serviced and this will bring a competitive advantage and lowering costs of doing business within the region,” Mr Mvunga said.
And Kazungula bridge project consultant J.V. team leader Kobamelo Kgoboko said works on the temporary bridge was currently at 48 percent complete on the Zambian side, stating that the workforce had slightly slowed down due the hot weather pattern in the area.
Mr. Kgoboko said the high temperatures had slowed down the pace of work on the bridge as the team now had to start work early in the morning before it got hot.
“The Zambian portion is substantially complete and we also have to put up a temporary bridge for Botswana by the end of this year. Once we cross over to the other side, we will be able to do permanent works here (Zambia) while doing the temporary bridge,” Kgoboko said. Meanwhile, Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd project manager Yongwoo William Kim said they are quickly catching up on the delayed progress of the bridge whose January 2016 standing was at 5.7 percent from the planned progress of 10.7 percent.
“Resources from the local people have been tough but now we are stabilizing on the human resource part in order for us to work more efficiently to meet the target of the bridge. But the 5.7 percent completion is not really a delay but simply works that are certified which means we got paid,” Mr Kim said.
It is expected that the Kazungula bridge project will create about 750 jobs for Zambians and Tswanas.
As of 31st January, 2016, a total of 476 people had been employed with 237 being Zambian and 168 from Botswana and 71 expatriates.
Mr Mvunga expressed satisfaction at the distribution of numbers of employed people, stating that the number was reasonable and fairly balanced and would add value to the community.
The Kazungula project is a multi-nation and border crossing project located at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers with a total length of 6.371 km and so far 344 metres had been covered.