Bridge-building is booming in Africa. Key projects are being unveiled or are under construction to give the region vibrant, efficient and economic transport corridors and boost the incomplete integration of their associated economies.
Botswana and Zambia are hoping to commence construction of the delayed $259-million Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River, a critical strategy to improve Africa’s north-south corridor, which links mineral-rich Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Botswana and the port of Durban in South Africa.
The project is expected to provide a solution to the transport constraints between Botswana and Zambia, where an estimated 100 cargo trucks on either side of the Zambezi River take up to two weeks at the border posts before crossing.
The 930-meter-long-bridge has three construction components: a railroad bridge, one-stop border-post facilities and 10 kilometers of access roads at the Kazungula border between Zambia and Botswana. The two-lane cable-stayed bridge will be tolled.
Financing was to come from the African Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the governments of Zambia and Botswana. Although JICA had pledged $149.2 million of the project’s total cost, an equivalent of 57.5%, the Japanese have since withdrawn from the undertaking after debate over the contract award, approved by the Botswana and Zambia governments.
“[JICA has] pulled out, and we shall try to engage the African Development Bank to put in more resources. Then, we shall set the new groundbreaking date, which was supposed to have taken place this month,” Zambia Works and Supply Minister Yamfwa Mukanga stated in early August.
JICA's sudden withdrawal came after differences emerged over the technical evaluation of the project bids, culminating in both governments awarding the contract to South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering and Construction. Other bidders were Japan’s Shimizu, South Africa’s Stefanutti and China’s Major Bridge Engineering Corp.
Meanwhile, on the Ivory Coast, construction is progressing on Africa's first bridge over a lagoon, a project that is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.
The 1.9-km Henry Konan Bedie Toll Bridge, also known as the "third bridge" over the Abidjan Ebrie lagoon, is being constructed by the Socoprim consortium partners of Bouygues Travaux Publics, the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund, Total CI, the Ivory Coast government and the National Investment Bank. The span will connect the new 6.6-km road between the residential district of Riviera to the industrial area of Marcory, both in the capital, Abidjan.
Socoprim spokesperson Neyrand Mariana says the $292-million precast-concrete bridge will consist of a 1,500-m-long viaduct divided into 30 spans of 50 m each as well as 400 m on a dike platform, which will protrude into the lagoon on the western shore of the Anoumabo channel. “It has been designed to be rather flat, to match the surroundings, and will rest on 31 pairs of foundation piles,” says Mariana. The 2-m-dia piles are constructed as deep as 90 m below the water and rise up to 5 m above the water.