THE construction of a temporal Bridge at Kazungula border in Southern Province to facilitate for the construction of a permanent one has reached an advanced with works currently reaching almost the middle of Zambezi River.
In terms of employment created by the end of January this year, 476 people have been employed out of which 405 are local people from both Zambia and Zimbabwe while 71 are foreign nationals.
From the 405 local people employed from the two countries, 168 are from Botswana while 237 are Zambians.
The US$ 161, 961, 304.84 Kazungula Bridge project is being implemented by the Governments of Zambia and Botswana while Daewoo Engineering and Construction Company Limited of South Korea is the contractor.
Kazungula Bridge Project Team Leader Kabamelo Kgoboko said the Zambian portion of the temporal Bridge was currently substantially complete saying similar works would be done soon on the other side of Botswana.
Mr Kgoboko, who comes from Botswana, said the entire temporal bridge would be completed before the end of this year.
He was speaking in Kazungula on Tuesday this week when Finance Deputy Minister Christopher Mvunga inspected the construction works.
“This is 48 per cent of works done so far for the temporal bridge. It is 50 per cent in Zambia and 50 per cent on the Botswana side.
“So far we have covered 344 metres. The permanent bridge will be a 923 metres long facility,” he said.
Mr Kgoboko said the project, which started on December 2014, was expected to employ between 750 and 800 people.
He also said construction works for the Permanent Bridge had started in January this year.
“We have three packages. Package one is the temporal Bridge while package two is the Botswana one stop border facilities.
“The contract was awarded for package two and we expect that works will start in March. Package three is the border facility for Zambia,” he said.
Mr Kgoboko said the current major challenge was the hot weather which was slowing down the works.
“The hot weather requires that we start the works early. We had a number of accidents but we are cautious and we have avoided working in the nigh,” he said.
And Mr Mvunga, who was on a tour of border facilities in Kazungula, was impressed with the progress made so far on the construction of the temporal Bridge.
“The progress is good and as I said, this is a key strategic Bridge from trade facilitation to the movement of goods and people.
“If you look at the trend currently where we are using pontoons at the border, trade is slow and so the Bridge will eliminate that and bring additional benefits in terms of trade and promote intra-trade in Southern Africa,” Mr Mvunga said.
He was also pleasing to see law enforcement agencies such as police, customs and immigration working as one team.
In terms of revenue collected by Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Kazungula border post, Mr Mvunga said budget for January was K90 million and the station collected K77 million.
“In 2015, the budget was over K700 million and they collected about K900 million, it shows that there is something positive happening,”Mr Mvunga said.
ZRA Commissioner for Customs Services Division Dingani Banda said the new Bridge and one stop border facilities would trade facilitate in Southern Africa.
“We will also have a one stop ost which means we will have extended hours.
“We are currently using pontoons which have challenges but with the Bridge, we expect to be a major boost in terms of trade facilitation in the region,” Mr Banda said.