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How a $260M bridge negotiated Africa’s most unusual border

Today, the pontoons sit ashore, mercifully redundant. You might spot them while crossing the 923-meter (3,028-foot) long Kazungula Bridge, a $260 million project co-financed and co-operated by Botswana and Zambia, that a year into service has already transformed this southern African trade artery.
The bridge was conceived to speed up travel along the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) North-South Corridor, a route historically beset with costly border delays.

Copper from DRC, Zambia and Tanzania traveling south before being shipped to China. Food from South Africa traveling north. Mining equipment from Tanzania heading to the DRC and Zambia. All pass across Kazungula, says Kaiko Salim Wamunyima, secretary general of the SADC Truck Drivers Association of Zambia.

The bridge opened in May 2021 but was over a decade in the making, explains Kazungula project engineering manager Isaac Chifunda.

Geopolitics played a large part in the bridge’s design. Kazungula spans an area of Africa known as the “quadripoint,” says Chifunda. Sixty-five kilometers (40 miles) upstream from Victoria Falls, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe converge at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers. The countries’ borders extend into the rivers, so Kazungula Bridge was shaped with a pronounced curve to weave through the landscape, avoiding Zimbabwean waters, says Chifunda.

“Africa was massively represented on this project,” says Chifunda. Although construction was overseen by South…

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