– The Herald
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will today join his Botswana and Zambian counterparts for the commissioning of the Kazungula Bridge to which Zimbabwe is now part of having been included in the project thanks to the re-engagement and engagement efforts of the Second Republic.
The President will meet with Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the commissioning of the Kazungula rail-road bridge which will improve regional trade and traffic flow.
While commissioning a completed 6,5km stretch of the Marongora–Hellsgate section of the Makuti–Chirundu Road, the President said the Kazungula bridge is now a property of three nations.
“During this month, I will be joining the Presidents of Botswana and Zambia at Kazungula, to commission the Kazungula Bridge. With the coming in of the new dispensation, Zimbabwe came on board the project and the bridge is now owned by three countries,”
As part of the deal, Zimbabwe will pay a portion for the development of the US$259,3 million project, as well as expeditiously widen the Victoria Falls-Kasane Road that will ensure the country benefits from the traffic coming from either Botswana or Zambia riding on its centrality as the regional trade hub.
The commissioning of the bridge comes at a time when the Second Republic is carrying out massive infrastructural development projects including the dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge-Chirundu highway.
This is in line with the country’s five-year economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy 1, which prioritises infrastructure development as a sine qua non of economic recovery and growth.
To this end, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava said the Second Republic is focused on increasing trade and cooperation hence its involvement in the trilateral project.
“We have agreed with our counterparts, the Government of Botswana, the Government of Zambia, we are now part of the Kazungula bridge and subsequently, we are going to be paying our portion of the development of that bridge. “From the time that his Excellency the President agreed with his counterparts, this is the first anniversary of that agreement. We need to cooperate and enhance Zimbabwe trade in whatever form possible that this bridge can bring, from Botswana via that route to Zimbabwe and Zambia via that route to Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe itself is going to improve the Kasane-Victoria Falls highway in a way that it can carry the load that comes via the bridge,”
said the Minister.
Just last week President Mnangagwa commissioned the completed phase of the Marongora-Hellsgate section of the Makuti-Chirundu road and said the completion of the project gives impetus to SADC’s Regional Development Master Plan –Vision 2027, which envisions well maintained and operated infrastructure that promotes seamless transport services in the region.
He said the infrastructural development projects fit into intra-regional and continental ideals encapsulated in the Africa Agenda 2063 of a more integrated, united, and prosperous continent.
One of the key expectations of NDS-1, said President Mnangagwa, was the completion of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway when it lapses in 2025.
It is anticipated that completion of the Kazungula project will result in reduced border transit time, on top of increased traffic, reduced time-based transport, and trade cost.
It will facilitate intra and extra-regional trade activities by integrating economies served by the corridor. There will also be improved border management operations arising from the new one-stop border facilities.