ZIMBABWE could block neighbours Botswana and Zambia from constructing a bridge on the Zambezi River linking the two countries amid fears the country stands to lose out on much-needed revenue as commercial traffic would by-pass the country.
It is feared that once complete, traffic would by-pass the Beitbridge border post opting for the new crossing resulting in Zimbabwe losing revenue it currently generates from tollgates and at the border post.
Botswana and Zambia are said to be building a new bridge called Khasane Bridge. The matter is said to have roped in President Robert Mugabe and his Zambian counterpart Michael Sata.
In Wednesday’s National Assembly oral answers to questions without notice session, Zanu PF Chikomba Central MP Felix Tapiwa Mhona asked Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Obert Mpofu if the project was not a ploy to divert international traffic volume away from Zimbabwe.
“There is a bridge that is being constructed between Botswana and Zambia known as Khasane Bridge. What is the government policy in place so as to counter this conspiracy whereby you are going to see traffic by-passing our Beitbridge, which is the gateway to Southern Africa, consequently impacting negatively on our revenue?” Mhona asked.
Mpofu said there was no boundary between Botswana and Zambia and that was backed by the United Nations’ policy of boundaries.
“The question that was raised by the honourable member is very important and those that have been in cabinet across the floor know the position of the government regarding that bridge that Botswana and Zambia intend to construct,” Mpofu said.
“So, the position of the government is that there is no direct border between Botswana and Zambia. If a bridge has to be constructed in that area, it will have to go through Zimbabwe, hence the stalemate.
“I have engaged my colleague in Zambia and this engagement has also been escalated to the principals of the two countries, and the matter is at that level.
“Our understanding is supported by the UN on boundaries; that there is no boundary between Botswana and Zambia. If they want to build a bridge on that piece of land, Zimbabwe has to be involved.”
He said Zimbabwe felt there was no need for a bridge just a few kilometres from the Victoria Falls Bridge and the intention
was to avoid Zimbabwe to the north.