Until a year ago, crossing the Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia was a slow and congested affair. For trucks moving along a key transport corridor, stretching from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Durban, South Africa, the river was an obstacle without an elegant solution. Vehicles would load onto a pontoon, two at a time, when the current wasn’t too strong and the rains not too heavy. It was a 10 to 15-minute journey that you could spend up to 15 days waiting for, recalls the head of one truck drivers’ association.
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 by Botswana, Zambia and the African Development Bank, that a year into service has already transformed this southern African trade artery.