When complete sometime in 2020, Botswana’s first cable-stayed bridge is expected to stimulate trade, especially tourism.
For a long time now, crossing the Okavango River from Mohembo to Seronga has been done by way of a government-issue ferry, a free taxi service that shuttles back and forth between the river banks from dawn to dusk carrying people and vehicles. Former Botswana Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) Council member and Maun-based businessman, John Wellio, says that the bridge will both speed up the pace and reduce the cost of doing business in that part of Ngamiland.
“Conducting business by ferry is not ideal at all. One loses a lot of time queuing because everyone uses the ferry to cross the river. The other inconvenience is that the ferry doesn’t operate at night. With the new bridge it will be easier and much more convenient to do business because vehicles will be able to cross from one side to the other at any time of the day and there will be no queuing,” he says.
Mohembo Bridge should have been built some 10 years ago but a series of delays frustrated such plans. In his 2016/17 budget speech two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo, said that the global financial and economic crisis led to a number of projects being deferred, especially in the areas of social and economic infrastructure such as in education, health, and roads.
“In this regard, government, through the [Economic Stimulus Package] is embarking on fast-tracking backlog eradication,” he said, adding later that Mohembo Bridge is at tendering stage.
Through an international tender, bids are invited for the works contract for the construction of approximately 1.2 kilometre bridge across the Okavango River, including about 3 km of road and associated stormwater drainage works. The construction period is 36 months and is expected to start during the course of the 2016/17 financial year which starts on April 1.
The main items of works are: construction of about 400 metres of cable-stayed bridge over the main channel and a total of about 761 metres of incrementally launched pre-stressed concrete box girder bridge, founded on bored cast-in-situ concrete piles in the form of oscillator piles to the highly/moderately weathered rock at depth of up to 30 metres below natural ground level; construction of approach main road (of approximately 3 km of length) to bitumen standard (asphalt concrete) and the associated storm-water drainage works; and electrical installation and reticulation to the 1.161 km long bridge and street lighting along the 3 km of the approach roads. The Mohembo Bridge will be a remarkable and symbolic engineering structure: the A-pylons will take the form of intersecting elephant tusks.
Tenderers who live in Botswana must be registered with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board in the following categories: Code: 03. Civil Engineering; Sub-code(s): 05 Bridges, Grade E (Unlimited). The minimum number of successfully completed cable stayed and incrementally launched bridge contracts by tenderers who live outside Botswana shall be two for each type during the last 10 years. The value of each shall be at least Botswana P500 million. In line with the Citizen Economic Empowerment Policy, mandatory sub-contracting to 100 percent citizen-owned contractors by foreign-owned bidding entities applies to this tender.