Kasane — Botswana and Zambia on Tuesday signed a one stop border post bilateral agreement ahead of the Kazungula bridge commissioning next month.
The $173 million three-phased project comprise the bridge and one-stop facilities on either side of the Botswana/Zambia border.
On the Botswana side, the facility was constructed at a cost of P440 milion while Zambia spent K373 million.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ms Peggy Serame said the legal instrument, part of the operationalisation of the bridge project, was a culmination of years of planning and implementation of the infrastructure.
Ms Serame said the bridge and border post facilities were in line with the regional approach to development as espoused in the SADC development agenda.
She said the border post facilities would enable trade facilitation throughout the SADC region and beyond.
Ms Serame expressed optimism that those manning the facilities would offer first class service, especially to the private sector, the region's main customers.
Saying Botswana regarded Zambia as a key strategic partner in development, Ms Serame said the bridge was testimony to the ever-increasing scope and scale of cooperation between the two countries.
The minister said the project's strategic partnership should enhance development and competitiveness of the two economies to improve the prospects of attracting more private sector investment and create jobs.
"Given the ambience of these facilities, our customers who will be travelling population, will have high expectations on the services provided to them," she said.
For his part, Zambia's Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry, Mr Christopher Yaluma commended the two countries' leadership for the actualization of the project saying it cemented existing cordial relations between Botswana and Zambia.
"The agreement shows how our two countries can work together exceptionally to go beyond cordial relations to achieving greater goals as has been set in this mega infrastructure which is a beacon of trade facilitation," he said.
Through the agreement, Mr Yaluma said, Botswana and Zambia's bilateral relations would not only benefit the two countries but the region and the world as a whole.
He said for Zambia, the Kazungula Border Post was a principal point on the north-south corridor for movement of goods and people.
From April 2020 to date, the border post had facilitated over 26 356 in traffic volumes for imports, exports and transits, an average of slightly over 70 trucks a day, he said.
He said the volumes were expected to increase on account of smart trade facilitation tools and framework that came with the one-stop facility and a more guaranteed safe mode of crossing the Zambezi River.
According to Mr Yulama, the main objective of the agreement was to enhance trade facilitation through the efficient movement of goods and people between Botswana and Zambia and within SADC as well as the tripartite of SADC, Eastern African Community and Common Market Eastern and Southern Africa.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>