The US $174m Kazungula bridge project, initially scheduled for completion some two months ago, is now expected to be completed in June next year, 10 months behind schedule.
Project consultant Mr Kobamelo Kgoboko said construction works of the 923m long bridge, now at 91.92%, should have been completed in August this year but had been delayed due to a number of factors. Once complete, he said, the bridge would improve border management operations, reduce time-based trade and transport costs as well as transit time for freight and passengers.
Mr Kgoboko said the bridge would boost the regional economy through increasing the global competitiveness of goods from Zambia and Botswana and traffic throughout the north-south corridor.
Currently, trucks on transit between Botswana and Zambia have to wait a minimum of three days before crossing between the two countries but once the bridge is operational, the process is expected to take less than half a day.
Mr Kgoboko said the project had three components, the first being the bridge, the second and the third being one-stop border posts in Botswana and Zambia respectively. He said the Botswana post was currently 98.7% complete while the Zambian project was 80.5%; expected to be completed in February next year. He explained that the bridge had eight pylons, six of which had been completed.
According to a study done in 2008, an average of 207 vehicles are ferried by pontoon on a daily basis but with the completion of the bridge, the daily average is expected to almost double. In addition to the bridge project, earlier this year Botswana and Zambian railway corporations re-committed to putting up a railway line between Mosetse and Livingstone. It is anticipated that the 430km project will further reduce goods and passenger transit time as well as transport costs.