It may be a big erection, but news that the construction of the Kazungula Bridge and border post is due to begin in July has brought a mixed reaction from the local population.
Whilst the $200 million project will bring much-needed jobs to the area – the swarm of sex workers that have taken up residence there are worried that the development will render their lucrative trade impotent.
Now that the negations between Botswana and Zambia and financing bodies have been concluded, sex workers plying their trade at the busy border village of Kazungula are experiencing anxious moments.
Commercial sex workers from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana have been flocking to the rural village for years because the area is strategically positioned to sell sex.
“Truck drivers from Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rest of Africa pass through Kazungula,” said Miriam Ndlovu, a 25-year-old sex worker from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
According to her the congestion of haulage trucks that characterize the border village during delays caused by breakdowns in the ferry service have provided commercial sex workers with the perfect opportunity to ply their trade.
“When a queue of trucks grows to as long as 200 metres, we smile because that means more business for us,” said Ndlovu, who hails from Lupane village in the Matebelaleland North Province.
Ndlovu said she is equally apprehensive like other sex workers at the border village after learning that the governments of Zambia and Botswana are planning to construct a bridge.
Tshepang Moribame of Semolale village in the Bobonong area, relocated to Kazungula after a friend enticed her with the lucrative life that she was living thanks to selling sex.
“Once the bridge is constructed I will relocate back home. There will be no point of me staying here anymore,” said Tshepang.
She added, “The erection of a bridge here means no more delays. And without delays it means no more restless truckers to buy sex. Truck drivers are our main customers. When they take a week or so still waiting to cross the border it means more money for us.”
However Tshepang might well be able to retire on her earnings before then as the building process is likely to take five years, and in that time there will be a large population of construction workers to service.
Kgosi Morgan Makhanga of Kazungula expressed his concern over the issue in a recent interview with the Daily News.
Whilst welcoming the coming of the bridge he acknowledged that during the construction phase families were going to break up as has happened in other areas when large projects are undertaken.
For the truck drivers concerned there will now be competition for the services of the sex workers that parade the border area day and night.
One driver who asked not to be named commented: “We are forced to buy sex because we spend days here waiting to be cleared. These ladies are the ones who keep us entertained,” he said.
The truck driver from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said the construction of a bridge would eventually mean no more delays, and with it no more commercial sex breaks.
“Although it will take time, and before then we might have to hassle harder to get the women we want, when the bridge is finally built I will miss Batswana women. They are well-built and attractive,” he said.
FINANCING THE WORK
The Japanese Government has pledged to support the two governments with financial backing from start to finish to help the Zambian and Botswana governments meet the estimated $200million cost of the bridge and one-stop border posts between the countries.
The project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, will be co-financed by Japan and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The bridge is expected to enhance transportation of goods along the regional North-South Corridor that links the two mineral-rich countries, Zambia and the DRC to the port of Durban in South Africa.
Since 1979 the only means of crossing the Zambezi River at Kazungula has been by ferry.