HOUSING and Infrastructure Development Minister Vincent Mwale says a total of US$ 73,653,356.30 has been released towards the completion of the Kazungula bridge project with a balance of US$ 8,689,284.84 which will be paid before the end of this year.

Responding to a query, Mwale said the assertions being circulated via social media, purporting that the Zambian Government had failed to pay its dues and would not honour the outstanding amount owed to the contractor were not correct.

“To date, an amount of US$ 82,342,641.14 has been certified on the project of which US$ 73,653,356.30 has already been disbursed and the balance of US$ 8,689,284.84 whose certificates were received by the paying agent, National Road Fund Agency, two days ago will be paid before year end. This is within the 56 days allowed for settlement of certified Interim Payment Certificates. It should be noted that a balance on the contract in the sum of US$4,749,758.63 remains to be certified and issued to the Zambian Government,” Mwale stated.

“I would like to put it on record that the assertions currently being circulated via social media, purporting that the Zambian Government has failed to pay its dues and will not honour the outstanding amount owed to the Contractor, are not correct. It is worth mentioning that the payment of the retention amount on the part of the Zambian Government is contractual and shall be met. As such, Ministry of Finance through the National Road Fund Agency is working towards the settling of the Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) before the end of the year.”

He said the objective of the project was to reduce transit times at the Kazungula border.

“The Kazungula Bridge Project lies on the North-South Transport Corridor and is a vital trade route that will serve major trade reliant economies within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) including the project implementing countries of Zambia and Botswana. The primary objective of the project is to significantly reduce transit times at the Kazungula Border, thus mitigating border uncertainties associated with high transport and trade costs. The project thus aims at the provision of vital transport infrastructure on the Corridor through the construction of the main bridge at Kazungula which is to be complemented with one stop border post. These facilities will facilitate easy access for intra and inter regional trade, facilitate easy access to international markets through connectivity with major seaports, contribute to maximizing the operational efficiency of the corridor and promote social and economic integration of the two countries and the SADC region,” he said.

“The Kazungula Bridge Project Implementation is divided into three contract packages namely; package one bridge and approach Ramps; package two, one stop Border Post (OSBP) facilities Botswana side and Approach Road; and package three one stop border Post (OSBP) facilities Zambia side and Approach Road. Package one which involves the construction of a Bridge and approach ramps is a Government financed project where the Republics of Zambia and Botswana are financing the project on a 50-50 basis. On the other hand, Package 2 which involves the construction of a One Stop Border Post facility on the Botswana side is Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) financed whilst package 3 which involves the construction of a one stop border post facility on the Zambian side is financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).”

Mwale said currently, the contractor was working on the snags and defects which were identified.

“Package One of the Kazungula Bridge project is currently ongoing following the signing of the works contract with Messrs. Daewoo Engineering and Construction Limited of South Korea with the two Governments of Zambia and Botswana on 5th September, 2014 at the contract sum of US$ 174,184,799.54, of which US$87,092,399.77 relates to the Government of Zambia. The contract was initially to be implemented over a 48 months period but will instead be implemented over 57months owing to approved requests of extension of time on the project. The scope of work on this contract package involves the construction of a 923m curved, pre-stressed concrete box girder with extra dosed main bridge including approach roads,” said Mwale.

“The works on the bridge have been completed with the Contractor attaining 100 percent physical progress on site. The taking over certificate was issued effective on 5th September, 2020 and the project is currently under defect notification period for a period of two years up to 2022. Currently, the contractor is working on the snags and defects which were identified at taking over stage. The final statement at completion is expected to be submitted by the contractor within 84 days from the time the taking over certificate was issued.”