8 July 2014
South Africa and Botswana have signed a memorandum of agreement that will see the two countries improving cooperation to promote increased cross-border trade, economic growth and regional integration.
Key to the agreement is a programme to upgrade bridges and border posts connecting the two countries, starting with the reconstruction of the Rammotswa Bridge, which crosses the Notwane River where it borders South Africa and Botswana.
Speaking to journalists in Pretoria on Monday after signing the agreement, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said preliminary designs for the new bridge had been completed, and that South Africa had already committed R20-million to the project.
She added that the South African National Roads Agency had a dedicated project manager managing the process on the ground.
“Key to our agreement is that it will enhance regional integration as well as economic development,” Peters said. “It will also enhance the free movement of people across our two countries.”
Botswana Transport and Communications Minister Nonofo Molefhi said: “As South Africa is an economic hub in the region, it remains an attractive trade partner for most of our products and services.
“The road and bridges project will go a long way in terms of strengthening regional integration, as envisioned in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocols.”
Reconstruction of the Rammotswa Bridge will pave the way for the upgrade of the Swartkopfontein border post, which currently has to close for long periods over the rainy season, when the existing concrete drift river crossing is submerged.
Swartkopfontein offers a potentially convenient commercial route between Zeerust in South Africa and Gaborone, Lobatse and Ramotswa in Botswana.
The border post is ideally positioned between the commercial border posts of Kopfontein and Ramatlabama, and will relieve the pressure of traffic on these border posts once it becomes usable on a regular basis.
SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporter