Harare – Southern African leaders have hailed the completion of the Kazungula Bridge between Botswana and Zambia as a key milestone in boosting regional economic integration as it will facilitate the better flow of trade and movement of people.
The 923m and US$269.3 million road-and-rail Kazungula Bridge is at the quadripoint where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet.
The bridge replaces the pontoon ferry at the Botswana-Zambia border.
While the new infrastructure presently services Botswana and Zambia specifically, there is scope for Namibia and Zimbabwe to participate in the one-stop border facility that is a marquee of the agenda to enhance infrastructure for regional integration.
President at Monday’s commissioning of the bridge were Presidents Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana), Felix Tshisekedi (DRC, African Union Chairperson), Edgar Lungu (Zambia) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe); while Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba represented Namibian President Hage Geingob.
President Masisi said Namibia and Zimbabwe had been invited to participate in the project; and President Lungu said it was important that the facility be optimally used to boost trade.
“I have held talks with my counterpart in Botswana that this project must run daily up to 22 hours as soon as possible and you the technocrats must not play ping-pong with us after making these public pronouncements,” President Lungu said.
President Tshisekedi noted that the project dovetailed with the SADC infrastructure development masterplan and the AU’s Agenda 2063.
A tweet from the Government of Botswana added that: “The bridge and its associated works, is expected to ease access to international markets through connectivity with major seaports as well as contributing to maximizing the operational efficiency of the SADC North-South Corridor and enhance regional economic integration.”
Earlier, President Lungu held multilateral talks with Presidents Tshisekedi and Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi.
The three heads of State held closed-door talks at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport in Zambia’s tourism capital of Livingstone.
President Lungu said he had directed Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji to work with his Congolese counterpart, Minister Christophe Lutundula, to strengthen existing bilateral relations.