Botswana, Zim, Zambia to build bridge

The bridge to be constructed in 2008 is a culmination of various discussions held by the three countries in which ADB would provide 94 per cent of the funding to the project.

A statement released and signed by Permanent Secretary at Zambia’s works and supply ministry, Bizwell Nkunika and obtained by The Southern Times in Lusaka stated that the pact was signed after Zimbabwe finally agreed to come on board following an agreement reached among the three heads of states in August 2006.

Nkunika described Zimbabwe a necessary player in the project as it was going to foster accelerated trade and provision of goods and services using the bridge.

According to Nkunika, the bridge construction would start in 2008 and the three countries have agreed to proceed with the tendering process of the study, to take 12 months.

The ADB would contribute 94 per cent of the US$3.9 million needed and the six per cent would be shared among the three countries, as a show of commitment.

A technical committee spearheaded by directors of road agencies or departments from the three nations has been set.

Revenue authorities, environmental institutions, buildings departments, customs, immigration and other relevant government institutions from the three nations would be included in the steering committee and co-opted as necessary in the technical committee in accordance with the agreement, Nkunika said.

The next meeting of the joint steering committee would be held in Zimbabwe in December, where a calendar of regular meetings would be drawn. Trade among the three countries has been slow chiefly because pontoons have been used thus carrying lesser loads unlike a bridge which makes traffic faster.

The pontoons have on several instances led to loss of lives and property because of overloading as well as wear and tear of the equipment.

In a related development, Zambia and Botswana have signed an agreement to allow the free operation of airlines and use of airspace for cargo and passenger services between the two nations.

In a communiqu’ released in Livingstone on October 28, the two government resolved to remove restrictions on capacity and frequency on both cargo and passenger services and on the multiple designations airlines on both cargo and passenger services between themselves.

They further agreed on the exercise of the fifth freedom traffic rights, subject to approval by the aeronautical authorities of Zambia and Botswana and need to co-operate between designated airlines from both countries.

Under the route schedule for designated airlines, airlines were free to depart from any point in Zambia into Gaborone, Maun, Francistown and Kasane and depart Botswana from any point into Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and Mfuwe international airports.

November 2006
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