THE multi-million dollar Kazungula Bridge is a project that not only Zambians should be proud of, but the people of Botswana too for bringing to fruition this dream project.
It is a game changer not only for international trade but also for the local population. There will be a lot of commercial activities around Kazungula as the border point also includes a modern bridge and One-Stop Border Post facilities.
As President Edgar Lungu said, the project was another monumental achievement in his government’s agenda to transform Zambia through infrastructure development.
He said the Kazungula Bridge which will be operating up to 22:00 hours daily would contribute towards enhancing the livelihood of the citizens in the region, by among others, facilitating easier access to inter-regional trade.
President Lungu also said the Bridge would go a long way in supporting SADC’s regional integration agenda.
The euphoria marking its commissioning is justified. President Edgar Lungu with his Botswana counterpart President Mokgweetsi Masisi commissioned the facilities.
They were joined by guest of honour, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi and Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Other notable dignitaties present were Vice President of Namibia Dr. Nangolo Mbumba, acting Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini Themba Masuku and High Commissioner of South Africa to Botswana Rosemary Mashaba among others.
It is a project that all Africans should be proud of because of the numerous advantages it provides in promoting connectivity among the African countries.
Spanning the Zambezi River, the bridge straddles the North-South trade route, which runs from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the port of Durban.
It is an important alternative route to the Beit Bridge on the Zimbabwe and South African border. For now, it means that international truckers can either choose to go through Zimbabwe to the port of Duran or use Botswana through the Kazungula Bridge.
It will also offer relief to traders, many of whom have had to use unreliable ferries across the river to reach markets on either side of the Botswana-Zambia border.
But all this does not bode well if Zambians do not make full use of the facility by ensuring that there is increased trade not only with the neighbouring countries but other African states.
By this, Zambians must ensure that the export market is exploited to the maximum for the country to boost its foreign currency earnings.
In the past, people were erroneously told that Zambia was doomed for being a landlocked country.
People did not realise that the country’s geographical position was actually a blessing in disguise because it was land-linked to eight countries with which it shares its border thereby providing a ready market for goods and services.
This is one project that we implore citizens from the two countries to guard jealously because it is a fruition of their sacrifice and must not be misused.
President Tshisekedi who is also chairperson of the African Union urged the two countries to ensure the bridge was not used by unscrupulous people to commit crimes such as human trafficking.
Indeed, it would be a betrayal of the countries’ founding fathers who laid the groundwork for this imposing facility.