Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa was part of the regional leaders who graced the commissioning of the 923 metre long Kazungula Bridge which was developed at a cost of US$259,3 million.
The bridge, which lies across the Zambezi river, has a one stop border post linking Zambia and Botswana, the main players in the project.
Zimbabwe is now also technically a part of the project and will have to expeditiously widen the Victoria Falls-Kasane Road in order to benefit from traffic flows between Zambia and Botswana. It is expected that the opening of Kazungula Bridge will enhance trade and cooperation among Sadc nations and also take pressure off Beitbridge, which handles an estimated 600 trucks and cargo worth about US$10 million daily.
Once operational Kazungula is expected to process an estimated 250 trucks daily and reduce transit time from 36 hours to two hours. Previously hundreds of vehicles would wait for one to two weeks using barges.
Delays at Beitbridge and Kazungula were costing regional economies greatly. However with the commissioning of the Kazungula Bridge and the US$70 million expansion programme of Beitbridge, which is expected to start soon, regional trade is set to improve a lot.
Zimbabwe revenue authorities have indicated that they have adopted a similar strategy to that of the new Kazungula Border to improve on efficiencies. Trade experts have suggested that companies use inland clearing facilities to reduce congestion, which is likely to impact the North-South trade transit corridor during the expansion programme.
Kazungula will not solve all the South-North issues, according to one trade expert.
“There are still some gaps that need upgrading in Southern Africa e.g. Johannesburg to Maputo to Beira then to Malawi and also Trans Kalahari. These projects are in the Sadc Master plan with indicative timelines.”
Having an alternative route from South Africa into the rest of the continent complements intra-Africa trade.