Tokyo — ZAMBIA and Botswana have signed a loan agreement with the Japanese government to finance the construction of the Kazungula Bridge project.
The bridge project would be jointly financed by the government of Japan through Japan International Development Cooperation (JICA) and the African Development Bank (ADB) at a total cost of US$124.22 million.
The signing ceremony which took place at the JICA headquarters in Tokyo on Friday was witnessed by Foreign Affairs Minister Given Lubinda and Bank of Zambia governor Dr Michael Gondwe.
Under the agreement, JICA would provide US$41.77 million, ADB US$78.41 while the Government of Zambia would contribute US$1.57 million.
The project includes the construction of a new tolled road, railway bridge with one stop-border post facilities and access roads at Kazungula Border.
Zambia's Ambassador to Japan Ng'ona Mwelwa Chibesakunda signed on behalf of Zambia while Botswana's Minister of Finance and Development Planning Ontefetse Matambo signed for that country.
Zambia's Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda in a Gazette notice issued has delegated authority to Mr Chibesakunda to sign on behalf of Zambia.
Ambassador Chibesakunda said the signing of the loan agreement marks another milestone in the history of the warm and cordial bilateral relations between Zambia and Japan, a major significant step in regional integration.
He said the bridge project which seeks to replace the current Zambezi River pontoon would improve the efficiency of transit traffic
through the Kazungula Border thereby leading to increased trade activities and improvement of regional connectivity of the North-South corridor.
Mr Chibesakunda said the success of the process would also contribute to regional integration of the economies in the SADC region.
He assured JICA and the government of Japan that the Kazungula project would be implemented in accordance with the agreed procedures and standards stipulated in the loan agreement.
JICA senior vice-president Hideaki Domichi said the bridge project was of great significance for Japanese development assistance
because it focuses on regional infrastructure development which is one of the top priorities for JICA's operations in Africa.
Mr Domichi said JICA was considering going beyond construction of the bridge to streamlining administrative processes at border posts for trade facilitation.
And Botswana Minister of Finance and Development Planning Mr Matambo said the construction of the bridge at Kazungula would improve the flow of movement of people between Botswana and Zambia.