Official Development Assistance (ODA)
10. The Chirundu Bridge Construction Project: A Bridge Spanning National Borders
The Chirundu district is located along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, in an area traversed by the Zambezi River, which empties into the Indian Ocean. Bridge and border facilities (customs houses, vehicle inspection stations, police facilities, etc.) on both sides of the river have become essential to passenger traffic and the flow of commodities through this region. Built in 1939, the bridge itself had reached an advanced state of decay due to the expanded flow of traffic, and had also been cited for certain structural weaknesses, particularly in terms of its load and width limits. Daily traffic volume over the bridge is currently constricted by limits on vehicle weight and speed as well as a system of alternating one-way traffic. This situation has contributed to long lines of vehicles on both riverbanks, waiting for their turn to cross. As it happens, the Chirundu district occupies a strategic point of passage along the Beila corridor that connects the inland districts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with the Indian Ocean. Consequently, replacing the dated Chirundu Bridge has been increasingly considered necessary not only for Zambia and Zimbabwe, but also for other areas of southern Africa at large. Both countries accordingly have requested that Japan provide grant aid for the construction of a new bridge. In providing grant aid, Japanese practice usually focuses the aid on targets in a single country. In the Chirundu case, though, the aid involved one project to be shared by two recipient countries. Accordingly, Japan decided to provide the aid to both countries on a linked basis while treating it as a conventional venture in bilateral aid. As a new twist, though, both recipients were obligated to sign an international agreement to the effect that the newly constructed bridge would be properly utilized and maintained. The project commenced in FY1999 and is due to reach completion in FY2003. Once it goes into operation, the new bridge can be expected to facilitate a smoother flow of traffic and contribute to the ongoing economic advancement of the Chirundu district, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and other inland reaches of the SADC. Adopted by the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II), the Tokyo Agenda for Action advocates the pursuit of undertakings in regional cooperation. Hopes are that the new Chirundu Bridge, once completed, will earn recognition as a model project for the translation of Agenda objectives into tangible form.
The current Chirundu Bridge, congested with passenger and cargo traffic (on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe). Because the direction of traffic must be alternated at regular intervals, vehicles line up along both sides of the river, waiting their turn to cross.