Botswana: Masisi, Lungu Hold Talks

Lusaka — President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi was in Zambia on April 2 for bilateral talks with counterpart President Edgar Lungu.

Briefing the media, President Masisi said the talks partly focused on bringing back confidence on the construction of the Kazungula bridge project.

Work on the project, which at one point stalled because of delayed payment of the contractor, had resumed after the outstanding amount had been paid, he said.

Dr Masisi said they got assurance that the contractor had been paid all the outstanding US 16.62 million and that they committed to ensuring delays would not happen again.

The President said they agreed to "rope in Zimbabwe into the project" so that they could also benefit.

He said Zimbabwe would have to pay equity to be part of the project.

The bridge project is set to open up the transport corridor between Zambia and Botswana, a move that would have seen Zimbabwe lose out on transit revenue.

The primary objective of the project is to improve infrastructure at Kazungula to reduce transit time between borders.

Dr Masisi said the multi-million dollar project would facilitate increased trade activity and improve the integration of Zambia and Botswana's economies as well as their global competitiveness.

The project, located in the North-South Corridor and part of the infrastructure development programme covering the whole corridor, includes a bridge linking Botswana and Zambia over the Zambezi River and a one-stop border facilities on either side of the border.

This corridor is the busiest of all regional corridors in the SADC region, linking landlocked countries to the Durban, South Africa, the regional hub for export and import.

President Masisi also said Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Zambia were considering the introduction of a common visa or to be known as KAZA. KAZA are countries which converge in the Kavango and Zambezi river basins.

He said further talks would be held at the Elephant summit to be held in Kasane on May 7.

The summit will also discuss off-loading some of the growing elephant population onto other neighbouring countries.

For her part Minister of Transport and Communication Ms Dorcus Makgato said the Kazungula project was 75 per cent complete and was set to be commissioned in April 2020.

Also in the President's entourage was Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Unity Dow.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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