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The opening of Ngotwane Bridge between South Africa and Botswana is expected to unlock bilateral trade between the two countries.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr Kitso Mokaila, said this on Monday during official opening of the bridge at Swartkopfontein Boarder Post in South Africa.
He said the bridge would speed up movement of goods, people and further promote development within the region.
“The development of the regional transportation infrastructure and expansion of capacities of transportation corridors remain key in the efficient distribution of goods and development in Southern Africa,” he added.
Mr Mokaila said the SADC road network was one of the region’s largest public sector assets.
He said productivity in virtually every sector of the economy was affected by the quality and related performance of the road and said it was therefore essential that the bridge was managed efficiently and effectively.
Mr Mokaila highlighted that the bridge project dated as far back as 2000 when the two counties met to map a way forward on how they could improve the existing river crossing structures between them.
He said the move initiated the bilateral agreement between the two governments in which Botswana was to fully fund the design and construction of Platjan Bridge while South Africa was tasked with the Swartkopfontein/Ramotswa Boarder Bridge.
Furthermore, he said Botswana completed the design of the Platjan Bridge in November 2009 and due to the financial meltdown, the bridge construction was suspended and added that currently funds are available for the project.
“The project is currently at tendering stage and I would like to point out that there were technical difficulties that caused the delay in implementing this project,” he said.
The South Africa Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters said the bridge which was constructed to a tune of R78.5 million created employment of about 51 jobs for South Africans and Batswana for a period of 23 months.
Ms Peters said the bridge connect the people of the two countries as well as creating new opportunities especially that the people of the two countries are related.
She said trade has grown between the two countries over the years and so is the movement of goods and people. Ms Peters added that the new bridge will ease pressure and de congestion at Zeerust and Pioneer Boarder gates.
During the bridge construction, nine Botswana labourers were engaged while two companies were also engaged while 42 South Africa and five companies were engaged.
Source : BOPA