ZIMBABWE’S Transport minister Chris Mushowe was scheduled to meet his Zambian counterpart this week to discuss financing for the construction of a new bridge at Victoria
Falls to replace the current 99-year old structure.
The Victoria Falls bridge, built in 1905, has been a cause for concern, as it nears the end of its 100-year lifespan.
The bridge, a major economic link between Zimbabwe and countries north of the Zambezi, has managed to hold owing to periodic rehabilitations.
Mushowe confirmed that he was due to meet his Zambian counterpart in the resort town this week “to get appraisals” on the northern neighbour’s efforts to secure funding for the construction of the new bridge.
“I understand they (Zambians) have approached the World Bank for funding, but I cannot give information as it would be presumptuous of me to do that,” Mushowe told businessdigest.
He said the World Bank had agreed to finance a feasibility study of a new site for the bridge.
The current structure encompasses a pedestrian walkway, rail line and a vehicular overpass.
As well as acquainting himself with technicalities surrounding the structurally faulty Victoria Falls bridge and how it could be improved, Mushowe was expected to push for immediate measures to relieve pressure on the current bridge.
Such measures include the imposition of a ban on vehicles weighing more than three tonnes and identification of alternative routes into Zambia and beyond.
It has been noted that the current structure was not designed for heavy trucks, but haulage operators – from within the sub-region and beyond – prefer the route because of its cost-effectiveness.
Possible alternative routes such as Kazungula are shunned owing to distance and logistical limitations.