HomeEditorial CommentLimpopo Bridge apt showcase for BOTs

Limpopo Bridge apt showcase for BOTs

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The official handover of the Limpopo Bridge linking South Africa and Zimbabwe to the government and Pretoria on Monday was an important milestone as far as the much talked about private-public-partnerships are concerned.

The bridge was built by the New Limpopo Bridge Ltd in 1995 as part of a build, operate and transfer (BOT) deal.

A BOT is an arrangement where a company undertakes an infrastructure project and is allowed to operate it so that it can recover costs and make some profits before transferring the facility to the government.

Through such an initiative, governments can embark on key infrastructure projects that they would otherwise find impossible to bankroll due to budget limitations.

The amount of investment required for the Limpopo Bridge would have taken the cash-strapped Zimbabwe government several years to raise and this would have seriously impacted on trade and the movement of people across the region.

If the government and its South African counterparts had not entered into an arrangement with New Limpopo Bridge Ltd, the project would have been another pipe dream like the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Chirundu Highway or the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.

Therefore, it is in that light that we applaud the success of the Limpopo Bridge BOT in the hope that it will give the government confidence to enter into similar arrangements for infrastructure projects that have been outstanding for so long throughout the country.

The bridge will now be run by the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority from the Zimbabwean side, which would be collecting toll fees from motorists.

There are many similar projects awaiting funding that could in the not-so-distant future turn to be money spinners for the government and they just need a little innovation to get going.

The government should accept the fact that its other funding models for infrastructure projects have failed and move with the times.

BOTs may not be the magic bullet solution, but they are certainly part of the answer to decaying infrastructure and the delay in the implementation of national projects of a very strategic nature.

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