LUSAKA, Zambia

Zambia has approved the construction of a new bridge on the Luangwa River to boost trade through the Nacala Corridor with East Africa.

The project will cost around $144 million, with Zambia contributing over $75 million and an estimated $68 million coming from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Zambian government said in a statement on Thursday.

“The construction of the new bridge will increase traffic capacity in the Nacala Corridor to facilitate distribution of goods and movement,” said Chushi Kasanda, a government spokeswoman.

“This will contribute to the economic growth and industrial revitalization of Zambia and its neighboring countries.”

The Nacala Corridor runs from Zambia’s capital Lusaka through Malawi and Mozambique, where it connects to the port city of Nacala, and has been key for socioeconomic integration of the three countries.

Made in 1968, the existing bridge over the Luangwa River has been in use for more than 50 years, but is increasingly becoming an impediment in smooth flow of traffic on the Great East Road, Zambia’s gateway to East Africa.

“The maximum weight of vehicles that can currently pass over the bridge is limited to 55 tons, while the maximum speed is 30 kilometers per hour,” said Kasanda, adding that “only a single heavy goods vehicle is allowed to pass at any given moment.”

At a regional level, the bridge will help improve road transport and trade between Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, she said.

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