Despite earlier delays on the construction of the multi-billion pula Kazungula Bridge, government is adamant the project will be completed on time.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo told journalists this week the P1.4 billion project is on course and will be delivered by December 2018.
Earlier on, there was scepticism on whether the construction of the bridge will meet the scheduled timetable.
Before the tender for the project could be awarded last year, a dispute arose from three shortlisted firms, causing the commencement of the project to be stalled.
However, Mabeo indicated that the contractor, Daewoo Engineering Company had assured the ministry that it has put in place remedial measures or a catch-up plan to mitigate the time lost and to make sure that the project will be delivered within the agreed time.
He asserted that they are not anticipating an extension of time nor will there be request for extra funding, emphasising on the need for the contractor to complete works on the bridge on time.
“We need this bridge urgently so that it starts facilitating trade between Botswana, Zambia and the SADC region by reducing the number of days taken by truckers at the Kazungula border,” said Mabeo. The minister also explained that the construction of the 923 metres long bridge across the Zambezi River started with the laying of a temporary bridge, which is being used during the construction period.
Funded by loans from the African Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as well as contributions from both the governments of Zambia and Botswana, the bridge is highly expected to ease the flow of business in the Southern African region.
Botswana and Zambia have been using a ferry to move goods, people and other services to and from either sides of the Chobe River, known on the Zambian side as the Zambezi.
The ferry service posed a serious bottleneck to smooth flow of traffic and hampered full development of trade between the two nations and the SADC region.
Meanwhile, Mabeo said his ministry is currently engaged in the construction of other bridges such as the Mohembo and the Platjaan.
He said the procurement process for the construction of the Mohembo Bridge is being finalised and that construction is expected to commence around next April for a duration of 36 months.
As for the Platjaan Bridge, that connects Botswana and South Africa across Limpopo River, he said the procurement process is at an advanced stage as the tender for construction is at adjudication stage. The construction of this bridge is expected to commence in December 2015 for a duration of 27 months.