Failure to make up readily available funds for construction of one of the biggest project in Southern Africa, the Kazungula Bridge, by Zambia may delay construction further hence a hindrance to Botswana which is showing positive progress.
The Kazungula Bridge Project is a P2 billion bilateral initiative between Botswana and Zambia referred as a multi-national and border crossing 923m long bridge at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers. In this project Botswana and Zambia should meet each other halfway to put together a state of the art crossover between the two countries.
This project is divided into three separate contracts named “Packages.” Package 1 is taken by South Korea’s Daewoo E&C which is working on the construction of the 923m long by 18.5m wide bridge. Package 2 is the construction of the Botswana One Stop Border Post facility by Zhong Gan Engineering of China. Construction of One Stop Border Post on the Zambian side of the border which is referred to as Package 3 done by Foreign Economic Construction also from China.
However construction at the Zambian side of the border appears to be moving at a snail’s pace, BusinessPost understands that funds for the construction of the bridge from Botswana’s northern neighbours have not been forthcoming. Funds to be proceeded to Road Development Agency of Zambia from the country’s National Road Fund have been disappointing as per information received by this publication. Recently workers at the bridge downed tools pending payments which were delayed by the Zambian government.
Reports from Zambia suggests that the country failed to pay one contractor for the bridge an outstanding P140 million bill while Botswana managed to fulfil its part of commitments. Recently the Zambian government claimed to have proceeded 20 million Kwacha as its commitment, but the media reports in that country claims the money is not yet been paid.
Lending credence that Zambia has not been much forthcoming in the Kazungula Bridge project quickly, this week Minister of Transport and Communications Dorcas Makgato revealed that Package 3 or construction of One Stop Border Post on Zambian side is behind progress by16.38 percent. These utterances came amid reports that Zambia has been delaying in advancing funds for the projects causing workers strikes hence further delays.
“Zambian’s One Stop Border Post (Package 3) is currently at 57.6 percent progress to the planned 73.98 percent,” said Makgato when giving a presentation before parliament’s Committee of Supply. According to Makgato, those travellers between Botswana and Zambia who have been hoping to use the state of the art bridge this month as it was expected to have completed by now will have to wait until “mid 2020” as all packages are expected to have completed.
While Zambia seems to be dragging on the construction of the bridge, Botswana on the other hand is making a fair share as it is only far by progress by only 1.4 percent. Botswana’s One Stop Border Post project stands at 95.4 percent compared to 96.8 percent which was planned according to Makgato. The minister further revealed that construction of the bridge or Package 1 components is at 74 percent compared to 81 percent-observers blames this on Zambia’s unreliability when it comes to advancing funds.
One top Botswana government official who is a bit lenient on Zambia prefers that this country should add a side condition on this project-that Botswana finish all the remaining project and then Zambia pay Botswana at the end. According to this official, this will ensure that the bridge is not delayed. Zambia had started this project late when compared to Botswana, some of the factors that keep it on a back-foot and funding has only added salt to the wound, this publication understands.
When requesting for P1 402 436 080 for Roads Infrastructure Development for financial year 2019/20, Makgato had the Kazungula bridge in mind as she said the money will be used to continue implementation of the currently on-going projects like the bridge. The Kazungula project is jointly funded by governments of Zambia and Botswana with loans Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The objective of the Kazungula Bridge is to reduce transit time for freight and passengers, decrease time-based trade and transport cost and improved border management operations from the new One Stop Border Facilities. The bridge completion is expected to boost regional integration and trade and will be a key route linking the strategic economic areas like Durban harbour to at least seven SADC countries.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.