from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) –THE iconic but outdated Victoria Falls Bridge is set for a much-needed facelift pending an agreement between the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and a Turkish railway contractor.
Turkish Warpi Merkezy, a leading railway construction company with projects in Africa is doing a needs assessment with a view of coming up with a financing model for rehabilitation of NRZ infrastructure.
The bridge, which links Zambia and Zimbabwe, is among such infrastructure.
Ali Salih Uslu, the Warpi Merkezy Business Development Manager, said they were assessing easier and technical ways to reduce the cost of NRZ requirements on the track lines.
This is based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sealed after several meetings since November last year.
Company officials have been in Zimbabwe to make an evaluation in line with NRZ’s major investment to rehabilitate railway lines from Mutare to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
“We will assess to reduce costs for the country but for now we have no figures,” Uslu said.
“We need additional study, we have a projects manager in Zambia hence we will combine findings to see what needs rehabilitation, even across the bridge. We will know soon and we will do our best and come back,” Uslu added.
There are concerns over the safety of the 198-metre long and 128-metre high bridge amid increased transport volumes over the years.
A brainchild of Cecil John Rhodes under his vision of a Cape to Cairo railway scheme, the bridge was built in 1904 and completed in 1905.
Cleverland Bridge and Engineering Company of England was contracted to build the Victoria Falls Bridge for £70 000.
The bridge has not had major repair besides repainting co-owners, by NRZ and Zambia Railways.
Martin Dinha, the NRZ board chairman, said overall, company’s equipment and fleet were worn out, old and vandalised.
“They (Warpi Merkezy) are doing a follow up technical visit to see how they can fit in and come up with a funding model for rehabilitation and modernization of railway line and other structures,” he said.
“We are very confident that we will gain value and that we will be able to help in the modernization of NRZ,” Dinha added in an interview in Victoria Falls.
The Victoria Falls Bridge is situated on no man’s land between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
– CAJ News