The curved African bridge, on one of the world's strangest borders

May 10 last opened Kazungula Bridge between Botswana and Zambia, the ceremony was attended by the respective heads of state along with the presidents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The bridge, which is about one kilometer long, spans the Zambezi River and has an unusual curved shape. The reason is not structural: it was designed this way because of the very strange border that crosses, specifically between Botswana and Zambia, in fact it passes through a corridor of just over a hundred meters separating two different points where the border meets. Three states.

Triple border and the 135-meter border between Botswana and Zambia (Wikimedia Commons)

With a slight bend, the Kazungula Bridge can start from the Zambezi Bank in Botswana, at the point where it joins the Chobe tributary, and reach the other side in Zambia, without crossing into Zimbabwe and Namibia, thus linking the two countries directly involved without other customs crossings, which could hurt its commercial interest.

The place where it is located has long been considered the only place in the world where four different countries meet: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. In fact, the political explanation that has been confirmed for several decades is that it is not a quadruple border, but two very closely spaced triple borders, separated by the world’s shortest border, the 135m between Zambia and Botswana.

The bridge has been under construction since 2014 and had a total cost of more than 250 million dollars (about 210 million euros). It was funded by the Japanese agency JICA, which financially supports projects in developing countries, and by the African Development Bank. On the other hand, the works were carried out by the Korean company Daewoo E&C.

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There has been talk of a bridge being built there for some time, mainly to address an old problem of local traffic. To go to South Africa, in fact, the bulk of the freight traffic was headed towards the so-called “infamous” frontier of Pitbridge, Zimbabwe, which is known to be perpetually crowded (truck lines can last up to days). The bridge that crosses the Zambezi River opens a new road and will allow traffic to bypass Beitbridge, which is why former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe decided not to participate in the project, fearing that traffic would decrease on the road he crosses. .

The border between Zambia and Botswana is so short that it is impossible to represent on very small maps, moreover, in the past there have been raging disagreements between the African countries involved to decide whether the border is quadrupled or not. In the 1960s, South Africa – controlled by Namibia – and Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was known at the time) deemed the quadrilateral border to be able to make claims on commercial traffic between Zambia and Botswana, and the boat that allowed the exchange between the two countries was declared illegal from South Africa. In 1970, again due to the border controversy, there were some military clashes, and a few years later the Rhodesian army sank the boat as an excuse.

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In the following years, the dispute was then settled, and today the small border of 135 meters is generally considered valid. The recently opened bridge will cross this boundary and replace the previously used boat, which had the capacity to carry only two trucks at a time. As the site writes big thoughtThis means that thanks to the bridge there will be a new and easier trade route to drain the raw materials extracted in the southern part of the Congo, particularly rich in mines.

Bridge under construction (Wikimedia Commons)


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