One of the problems associated with borders is the inevitable cross border traffic. In recent years, there has been a marked increase in business development North of the Zambezi and we have seen a similar increase in the movement of large trucks across the borders both at the Victoria Falls Bridge and at the Kazungula ferry crossing point between Botswana and Zambia.
These border crossings are major staging posts for tourists, there is a constant battle to ensure that tourists crossing these borders do not get harassed as a result of the humdrum that accompanies major commercial, cross border traffic. The Victoria Falls bridge is 113 years old, one would assume it was not built for constant heavy traffic whilst at Kazungula trucks make the crossing on large Ferries. The Ferries have very often been unable to keep up with the traffic and bad delays in the truck movement has occurred. In recent years, commercial trucks may wait as long as a week to make this crossing.
The governments of Zambia and Botswana concluded a joint 300 million USD venture to build a 920-meter rail and road bridge at this point. The site is very near the meeting point of four countries, a unique historical and geographical phenomenon. Zimbabwe and Namibia both come so close to the same point leaving only a slight gap of 200 meters through which this bridge will pass.
The work on the bridge began two years ago and is still in the early stages of development. We visited the site last week and were shocked to see that there was already a bridge in place and vehicles crossing. This we were told is just the “temporary bridge” from which the actual bridge will be constructed. The temporary bridge took over 14 months to complete and only then could the contracted company Daewoo begin work on drilling into the bed rock of the river to begin work on the Pillars that will hold the new bridge. On closer inspection we could see the huge augers situated at more or less 100 meter gaps excavating the points at which each of the major pillars for the bridge will be situated.
It is understood that the bridge will be completed in 2019. It will be interesting to watch the progress, we hope that the contractors are able to keep to the timeline, we would all love to see less trucks parked on the sides of the roads around our tourist towns.
Editor 5 VF24