A South Korean Company, Daewoo E&C is expected to sign a US$162 million contract with the governments of Botswana and Zambia to construct the first phase of the Kazungula Bridge project in Livingstone, Zambia today (Friday).
Botswana and Zambia have agreed to construct a multimillion Pula bridge over the Zambezi river to ease traffic and improve trade links between the two countries.
Phase I of the construction comprises the bridge and Railway component. The official construction is scheduled to kick off on September 12, 2014. Initially Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was supposed to have invested over US$110 million into the whole project but pulled out at the last minute over disagreements with the technical evaluation of the bids for the bridge.
The unexpected change of heart by the Japanese agency has left the government of Botswana and Zambia with a funding gap on the project. As a result, says public relations officer at the ministry of transport and communications Kgomotso Makwati, the funding gap for Botswana after JICA pulled out of Package one amounted to USD 81 million about (P688.5 million). Makwati said that the Government of Botswana will get the finance from the Domestic Development Fund.
Funded by loans from African Development Bank, JICA as well as contributions from both the governments of Zambia and Botswana, Kazungula Bridge is an important project for both countries and the region. “Likewise, the Government of Zambia will find alternative source of funding to fill the financing gap.” Makwati said the delays in the construction of the Kazungula Bridge Project was mainly due to JICA disagreeing to the technical evaluation of the three bids which were submitted for the bridge and requesting for a re-evaluation. He said that the two governments have since decided to award the tender for the construction of the bridge to Daewoo, while other components of the project which include the building of two one stop border posts are still to be awarded. “An award of the contract for Package one was made to South Korea’s Daewoo E&C at the sum of USD 162 million about (P1.4 billion).”
He said that in April 2014, ministers of transport of the two member states met with the Japanese delegation in Kasane to discuss the issues surrounding the tender evaluation. Following the meeting, the member states agreed to award the contract without the support of JICA. However with the disagreement confined to the bids for the bridge component only, JICA is still expected to fund other components of the project. Upon completion the project is expected to ease movement of goods and services between Zambia and the southern region.
The bridge construction project including the one stop border posts as well as relocation of villagers on the Zambian side is expected to take four years at a cost of US$259 million (P2.3 billion). Japan has allocated over US$35 million for the development of the bridge and one-stop border post on the Zambian side.