The Victoria Falls Bridge renovations are scheduled to be undertaken soon following a deal between the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and a Turkish railway contractor.
Turkish railway construction business Warpi Merkezy, which has operations throughout Africa, is conducting a needs assessment to establish a finance mechanism for NRZ infrastructure maintenance. The Victoria Falls Bridge that links Zambia and Zimbabwe is one of these pieces of infrastructure.
Ali Salih Uslu, Business Development Manager at Warpi Merkezy, claimed that they were looking into more simple and technical ways to reduce the cost of NRZ requirements on railway lines.
This is based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in November following many meetings.
Officials from the company have been in Zimbabwe to evaluate NRZ’s substantial investment in rehabilitating 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 and 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 further stated.
With increasing traffic loads over the years, there are concerns regarding the 198-meter-long, 128-meter-high bridge’s safety.
The bridge was constructed in 1904 and completed in 1905 as part of Cecil John Rhodes’ Cape to Cairo railway scheme.
The Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company of England built the Victoria Falls Bridge for £70,000. Apart from repainting NRZ and Zambia Railways co-owners, no significant repairs have been made to the bridge.
Martin Dinha, the chairman of the NRZ board, claimed that the company’s equipment and fleet were worn out, obsolete, and vandalised in general. Warpi Merkezy is returning for a second technical visit to assess how they can fit in and prepare a financial plan for railway line rehabilitation and modernisation, among other things.
Dinha remarked in a Victoria Falls interview that he believes the Victoria Falls Bridge renovations project would gain value and will be able to assist NRZ in modernising.
The Victoria Falls Bridge is located in a no-land man’s between Zimbabwe and Zambia.