Mmegi Online :: Kazungula Bridge project sparks a railways revolution in COMESA states
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Monday 19 November 2018, 18:00 pm.
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Kazungula Bridge project sparks a railways revolution in COMESA states

GABORONE: The proposed construction of the long-awaited Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River by Botswana and Zambian governments seems to have sparked a railways construction and reconstruction revolution particularly among COMESA member countries.
By Correspondent Tue 18 Nov 2014, 16:34 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Kazungula Bridge project sparks a railways revolution in COMESA states








In East Africa, for instance, reports from the Ugandan capital, Kampala, last month revealed that President Yoweri Museveni’s government was seeking for funds from China for its ambitious railways projects.

Finance ministry officials said Uganda would begin its railways fund-raising drive in China in the first quarter of next year for a planned standard gauge railway network in the East African country.

Deputy secretary to the treasury, Patrick Ocailap explained that a planned investor-meeting would follow a presentation next month of a report by Africa50 Fund, which had been contracted the by the Ugandan government to draw up a financing plan for the project.

Africa50, a unit of the African Development Bank (AfDB) helps find private investors to accelerate infrastructure projects.

“The report by Africa50 will give us financing options,” Ocailap said, adding that in January and March, “ministers of finance will hold road shows in China to mobilise funds”.

Similarly, Kenya, undaunted by terrorist activities in the coastal region, is building a railway from Mombasa, East Africa’s biggest port, to the capital, Nairobi. The link will be extended further inland to Rwandan capital, Kigali, via Uganda.

If all goes according to plan, the entire $13billion project should be completed by March 2018, Ugandan minister of state for works, John Byabangambi said in June this year.

Byabangambi disclosed that Uganda planned to raise funds along with Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan, which were upgrading their railways systems to reduce transport costs within the East African Economic Community (EAEC) and the Great Lakes Region.

Ocailap said the Export-Import Bank of China would be a key target for concessional loans. Uganda’s share of the project would be known only after the presentation of the Africa50 report though the ministry expects it to be about $8billion.

Byabangambi said China Harbour Engineering had been contracted to draw up the engineering design and would report back in eight months.

 The Chinese firm was working on a stretch from Malaba to Kampala, and a link from Tororo to the north of the country, he said at the start of the project last month.

Stressing the need to have the railways project up

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and running, President Museveni last month declared that should their efforts to find willing Chinese investors fail, Uganda would look for alternative sources of funding. In Dar es Salaam, his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete revealed that a $4.1billion cross-border railway project was being planned with neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi.

And further down the continent, Botswana and Zambia are set to start constructing the long-awaited Kazungula Bridge with the help of international financiers, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has agreed to meet the shortfall.

The ground-breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of the road and rail bridge at which former Vice President Ponatshego Kidikilwe and his Zambian counterpart Dr Guy Scott presided took place at Kazungula last August.

When completed the bridge, which is to be built across the Zambezi River at the confluence of Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia borders, will link Southern Africa to the East African coast and speed up the flow of goods and movement of people across the continent.

The Kazungula Bridge has been a long standing joint project of Zambia and Botswana governments and is seen as central to accelerated Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional integration and the wider intra-Africa trade. 

To be undertaken by China Major Bridge Engineering Corporation, Shimizu- Stefanuti Joint Venture and South Korea’s Daewoo E & R, the project involves the construction of a 923-metre long and 18.5-metre wide bridge with provisions for both rail and road transport.

Two one-stop border facilities-one at each end - and access roads -will also be built. The current total cost is estimated at US$259 million. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will partly finance the project, which had been initially estimated to US$60million.

 During his recent visit to the project site, AfDB President David Kaberuka, hailed the Kazungula Bridge as “Africa’s most important project for economic integration”.

Meanwhile, plans are also on the drawing board by Botswana and Namibia to construct a Trans-Kalahari railway line that will give land-locked Botswana access to the sea at the port of Walvis Bay on the Atlantic Ocean coast. (Sila Press Agency)

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