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Saturday 26 December 2020

Lamcent Capital to build US$40m hotel in Vic Falls

 Lamcent Capital intends to raise US$40 million through a combination of debt and equity to build a 200-roomed hotel in Victoria Falls. According to the company, US$16 million will be raised through equity, generating an average annual return of 14,6 percent and 12,1 percent on both return on equity and return on investment respectively over 10 years.

The hotel would have an estimated terminal value of US$55 million in 10 years based on an EBITDA multiple of 9,5x. The other US$24 million will be raised through debt with a 10-year tenure at 8 percent interest per annum, assuming a 2 percent US dollar inflation rate and a once-off 1 percent debt processing fee.

“The proposed hotel will spot 200 keys with 120 standard rooms, 48 deluxe rooms, 30 suites, and two presidential, making it an upper upscale scale brand in the same benchmark with Victoria Falls Hotel, Illala Lodge, A’Zambezi River Lodge, Africa Albida Lodges (Safari Lodge, Safari Club, Safari Suites),” said Lamcent.

“The land is aptly situated on the Zambezi River frontage, making it a premium destination for tourists. The river fronting location could be an exclusive offering in Victoria Falls as opposed to many competitors that do not benefit from river views, access to the river offers the potential for other revenues streams (cruises and water activities).”

Efforts are currently underway to have the project listed as a Special Economic Zone and to have it declared as a national project which will unlock tax benefits and funding flexibility.

The project is also eligible for the Afreximbank Construction Tourism-Linked Relay Facility.

Construction, expected to start during third quarter of next year and is estimated to take two years with official opening scheduled for third quarter of 2023.

Source: Lamcent Capital to build US$40m hotel in Vic Falls (25/12/20)

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Hotel slashes rates to cater for domestic market

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

VICTORIA Falls Hotel has re-opened its flagship Jungle Junction Restaurant and slashed by half service charges as it shifts focus towards the domestic market.

Victoria Falls Hotel’s clientele was traditionally 95 percent international before lockdown.

The unprecedented closure of the industry due to Covid-19 induced lockdown led to a paradigm shift in terms of clientele focus as international tourists are mostly restricted from travelling.

Victoria Falls Hotel runs four upmarket restaurants that include the Jungle Junction, Livingstone, the Terrace and the Pool Side restaurant.

Jungle Junction Restaurant officially re-opened last Friday with a buffet dinner for invited guests and partners mostly made up of locals as it transforms its dishes to meet the local taste. Deputy general manager, Mr Temba Maripakwenda, assured clients of their safety saying all basic Covid-19 protocols have been put in place. The facility had remained closed since March. The company hopes to ride on the festive season activity to reset its presence on business.

Mr Maripakwenda said the 2020 festive period was a different one as there are no international arrivals hence the focus on local travellers.

He said the hotel has slashed accommodation and meals rates by more than half to cater for the domestic market in line with country’s drive to promote domestic tourism.

“Our guests are happy so far because of our competitive rates. We are a five-star hotel and you can’t find such discounts anywhere.

“We have all basic Covid-19 protocols in place and our staff has been trained hence guests are assured of their safety and protection,” said the deputy general manager. The hotel’s executive chef, Mr Paul Muranda, said they had adjusted meals to tap into the local market. About 95 percent of our clients was international and now we have adjusted our dishes to meet local taste.

This year has been difficult and demand for our industry has been low hence we have to adjust the service to be all encompassing,” he said. — @ncubeleon

Source: Hotel slashes rates to cater for domestic market (22/12/20)

Monday 21 December 2020

‘Curb Rampant Poaching Of Firewood In Matabeleland North’

 Authorities have been urged to address rampant illegal poaching of firewood which has led to deforestation in Matabeleland North province. There has been a notable increase in unsustainable harvesting of firewood in rural and peri urban areas in the province which has resulted in the mushrooming of illegal firewood traders who have commercialised the commodity.

Power cuts in urban areas have increased demand of firewood as an alternative source of energy with vending stalls now a common site along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway.

In a speech by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matebeleland North, Richard Moyo which was read by the Deputy director in his office, Tapera Mugoriya during the provincial Tree planting day held at Chief Nekatambe’s homestead in Dete on Saturday called on authorities to carry out post harvesting audits to curb rampant firewood poaching.

“Regardless of the importance of indigenous trees to the wellbeing of Zimbabwean communities, the trees suffered heavy destruction in some areas due to a number of factors. While firewood has traditionally been harvested for domestic use, it has increasingly become a commercial commodity in urban areas to complement other forms of energy. This has led to the unsustainable harvesting of trees in rural and peri urban areas and the mushrooming of illegal firewood vending stalls across the country’s towns and cities including along the highways.

“Some of the firewood traders are holders of legitimate licenses/permits issued by the Forestry Commission and Hwange Rural District Council. I want to challenge these two authorities and other environmental agents to conduct post harvesting audits covering the areas where the firewood is coming from before renewing or issuing new licenses/permits,” said Moyo.  He said the country was saddled with a high level of deforestation which stood at 262 000ha annually which was exacerbating climate change. 

“We must ensure that we abide by the country’s environmental legislation and statutes if we are to address the levels of deforestation which nationally currently stands at about 262 000ha per annum. In times such as these when climate change induced challenges are real, it is our duty to as responsible citizens to plant and conserve trees as these form our first line of defense and safety nets against this natural problem. Tree planting is one of many responses to mitigate and adapt to climate change situations.”

Moyo said this year’s commemorations which featured the Baobab tree ran under the theme” Fruit trees for food security and nutrition” was part of efforts by government to promote food security.

Companies in Hwange were also urged to plant trees which play a very important role in regulating the localised microclimate associated with built up areas. Last month a joint operation comprising of security organs, agencies, local authorities and other stakeholders carried out a blitz that was targeting among other things illegal firewood traders especially in Hwange and Lupane districts.

Stakeholders who included Forestry Commission, Painted Dog Conservation, safari operators, District Development Coordinator, Zimparks, traditional leaders, community and traditional leaders took turns to plant Baobab trees in and around chief Nekatambe’ s homestead. The baobab/umkhomo tree which is abundant in Hwange district is used to make fruit pulp, immune boosters, relish, ropes, coffee, bags, paper, oils and amongst other things.

Mishingo Private Business Cooperative, a community-based self-help group has embarked on utilisation of the tree’s products through value addition projects.

Source: ‘Curb Rampant Poaching Of Firewood In Matabeleland North’ (20/12/20)

Saturday 12 December 2020

President directs urgent facelift for Victoria Falls Border

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said that the Victoria Falls Border is in a sorry state and requires urgent facelift to meet modern standards expected from a port of entry into a world destination.

The President visited the Victoria Falls Bridge via the border on Wednesday as he relived memories of how he was deported to Zambia by Rhodesian government after his release from a 10-year detention in 1972.

He has been in Victoria Falls since Tuesday to receive Freedom of the City from the local authority and also conferred City status to the municipality on Wednesday.

“This morning I went to the bridge and the customs area is in a sorry state. The building is old and dilapidated yet it should be the face of the country. I will ask the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to look into the matter and we will ensure to finance any developments that he may come up with,” said President Mnangagwa, who later officiated at the conferment ceremony.

The Victoria Falls Border with Zambia is characterised by a single small building with only two offices for the Immigration Department and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority besides the immigration hall on the entry and exit sides.

Port health, a key department especially during the Covid-19 era, has no office and uses a makeshift facility once used by the Ministry of Agriculture outside the building. The Environmental Management Authority also has no office.

There is also no proper police post at the border and security personnel operate from a small makeshift shed and no parking space for vehicles especially buses and heavy vehicles. This is despite the border being a busy port of entry in the tourism capital alongside Kazungula Border on the border with Botswana further upstream from Victoria Falls.

As a result, there are usually delays in clearing cargo and sometimes human traffic during peak periods because of limited space.

The Victoria Falls Border is a critical facility to the tourism sector as it is used by tourists especially in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area where a Uni-Visa model is being piloted. Before Covid-19, the border would attend to about 1500 travellers per day. Immigration department’s North Western Region consists of Victoria Falls, Kazungula, Pandamatenga and Binga Border posts as well as Victoria Falls International Airport. The Binga border is still under construction.

Upgrading the border will also be in tandem with the new city status, with the city already having the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) and the Victoria falls International Airport among other developments, which the President said were a symbol of hope and potential in the province.

President Mnangagwa also challenged the city leadership and all stakeholders to utilise the new status to boost national image towards growing the tourism sector and other national investment, trade and modernisation programmes.

He said the Second Republic is committed to implementation and completion of projects laid out in Matabeleland especially within the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Mlibizi-Binga-Sijalila Corridor.

“As the only city in the province and being at the epicentre of development matrix, Victoria Falls must provide leadership in all these endeavours. Furthermore, strong and enabling development control measures must be crafted and promoted to give impetus to the transformation of the city into world class smart city benchmarked against the world’s best,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said Government had allocated $19,5 billion for devolution in the 2021 National Budget, which should lead to development of the country with communities taking responsibility for their own development.

The City Mayor, Councillor Somvelo Dhlamini, commended the Government for unveiling Devolution Funds, which he said had been instrumental in development projects in the city. — @ncubeleon

Source: President directs urgent facelift for Victoria Falls Border (11/12/20)

Thursday 10 December 2020

Construction of Kazungula bridge halts again

 Zambia has once more failed to pay the company constructing the Kazungula Bridge, a project that crosses the Zambezi River and borders Botswana and Zambia.

The contractor, Daewoo E&C has complained that despite numerous requests for money to complete the bridge, there has been no response.

The contractor fears that, given that Zambia has failed to pay back Eurobonds, chances of being paid are bleak

The construction has therefore been halted once more.

Source: No funding, Construction of Kazungula bridge halts again (09/12/20)

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Victoria Falls Attains City Status

ALL is set for conferment of city status to Victoria Falls Municipality this Wednesday, with President Mnangagwa arriving in the resort town Tuesday evening.

Ahead of the President’s arrival were Local Government Minister July Moyo, Matabeleland North Minister of State Richard Moyo and Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda to witness the conferment of city status to a municipality that boasts of being the mainstay of the country’s tourism.

Speaking soon after receiving Mnangagwa at the airport, Victoria Falls mayor Somvelo Dlamini said all was set for the ceremony adding that there was too much excitement in the town.

“All is set. We are ready and have made necessary arrangements. All that is left is for the President to do the official signing but otherwise it’s all done because he has since proclaimed through an SI,” said Cllr Dlamini.

Earlier on Tuesday, President Mnangagwa proclaimed Victoria Falls a city through Statutory Instrument 285 of 2020 whose substance is to upgrade the municipality into a city in terms of the Urban Councils Act.

“Whereas in terms of Section 141 of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15 it is provided that a growth point, unincorporated urban area, local board or council may apply to the Minister in the form and manner prescribed for a change of its status.

“Whereas by section 14(2) of the said Act the Minister took necessary steps under the Act to effect the changes applied for and whereas Section 5 and 6 of the said Act have been complied with, I consider it desirable to make this proclamation by virtue of powers vested in the President, I do by this proclamation alter the name Victoria Falls Municipality to Victoria Falls City, and also assign the name Victoria Falls to City Council,” said President Mnangagwa through the SI.

The council will also present the President with the Freedom of the City for his contribution to the town’s growth into a city.

It will become the first such honour to be given to anyone by the municipality in its history.

Hopes are high that the city status will make the town competitive around the world.

Players in the tourism sector have said over the years they had played second fiddle to other tourist destinations because Victoria Falls was not appearing among cities.

It will be the second tourism city in the region after Cape Town.

Victoria Falls’ population is estimated around 40 000.

Source: Victoria Falls Attains City Status (09/12/20)

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Excitement in Victoria Falls as town gets first Nando’s restaurant

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

NANDO’S lovers in Victoria Falls will no longer have to travel for 400km to Bulawayo or cross the border to Botswana and Zambia to enjoy flame-grilled Nando’s meals as the brand opened its first branch in the resort town on Thursday.

It becomes Nando’s 14th branch in Zimbabwe. The launch came at a time Nando’s Zimbabwe is celebrating its silver jubilee in the country after opening its first branch at Avondale suburb in Harare 25 years ago.

Victoria Falls residents and tourists included, have the town’s municipality to thank for its push for city status as this played a significant role in encouraging Nando’s Zimbabwe, trading under Simbisa Brands, to open the branch.

The Nando’s opening adds to already existing Chicken Inn, Haefelis and Pizza Inn brands by the same company.

Commenting on Nando’s opening, Victoria Falls residents said they are grateful as this will save them from travelling unnecessarily in search of their preferred fast food outlet.

Tourism ambassador, Carl Joshua Ncube who was the MC at the Nando’s opening on Thursday hailed Simbisa for bringing the brand to their doorstep.

“We used to travel over 100km from Victoria Falls just to get Nando’s, crossing borders and stamping passports even. But now, it’s just a walking distance. God is good,” said a visibly excited Ncube.

A youthful Victoria Falls resident, Nkosinomusa Tshuma said: “We’re grateful for what Nando’s has done. It’s now up to us to support it the way we’ve been supporting other Nando’s branches elsewhere so that it remains in our town.”

Country manager for Nando’s Zimbabwe, Stephen Chamboko said Victoria Falls residents were the biggest beneficiaries as the branch employed locals only.

“Nando’s Zimbabwe is positive about the outlook and we felt this was the appropriate time to prepare for the future. Sometimes, you have to invest when the chips look low.

“We saw an opportunity in Victoria Falls which will soon be a city and found it appropriate to bring another Simbisa brand to Victoria Falls to provide variety,” said Chamboko.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the colourful launch on Thursday evening where scores of residents and businesspersons were entertained by imbube group Ubuntu Bomuntu before being accorded an opportunity to be the first to taste the brand’s meals.

“Nando’s is a fast-food casual dining facility for people especially between the ages of 25 and 40. The brand originated from South Africa and has spread around the world.

“We call our branches CASA and our first was in Avondale, Harare which opened in 1995. We’re looking at increasing our footprint in Zimbabwe and we’re always looking for opportunities,” added Chamboko.

Currently, 70 percent of Nando’s restaurants are in Harare while the other 30 percent is in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare which have one shop each. There are over 1 200 Nando’s restaurants worldwide. – @ncubeleon

Source: Excitement in Victoria Falls as town gets first Nando’s restaurant (9/12/20)

Rare Flash Floods Hit Vic Falls

 VICTORIA FALLS: This world-renowned resort town was Sunday morning hit by rare flash floods that affected houses in Mkhosana suburb following heavy rains.

However, residents are blaming the municipality for failing to construct storm drains as areas around the Shopping Centre, VID, Mkhosana SDA and Mukali areas were totally impassable in the morning.

Water flooded some houses with sofas, beds, cupboards and other household properties being soaked in water.

However, no one was injured or died as a result of the floods but some residents said their household property had been damaged extensively...

The whole of Mkhosana suburb does not have storm drains, which puts the whole area in danger of flooding in times of heavy rains.

Roads are also poorly drained and waterlogged, and rains leave heavy deposits of sand and litter on the road, putting people’s lives at even more risk of water-borne diseases.

However, the town clerk, Ronnie Dube and some engineers visited the suburb after residents had complained about the floods.

“This is something to be looked at as a matter of urgency and our engineers will sit down to find a solution,” said Dube while talking to some residents.

Weather forecasters have predicted that heavy rains will be experienced across the country with possibility of floods in most parts of the country.

Early this year, parts of Binga district and Hwange town were hit by flash floods which destroyed most properties while livestock such was swept away.

In Binga, one life was lost then while crops were destroyed.

In Hwange, close to 100 families were evacuated to a Hwange Colliery Company facility following the floods which also blocked the storm drains.

Some of the houses in Hwange remain unoccupied as the colliery company relocated the occupants to alternative shelter pending refurbishment.

Source: Rare Flash Floods Hit Vic Falls (07/12/20)

Monday 30 November 2020

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme

 ERM Ref: 0239269         EMA Ref: 17/1/1/3A        ZEMA Ref: ZEMA/DEPT/101/1/3

Dear Stakeholder

RE: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (Zambia and Zimbabwe) on the Zambezi River: Invitation to Webinar

Environmental Resources Management Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd. (ERM) has been contracted by the Zambezi River Authority (the Authority) to undertake the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) study for the development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) on the Zambezi River, 47km downstream of Victoria Falls.

On 03 March 2020, ERM notified stakeholders of the availability of the draft ESIAs for public review and comment, and invited stakeholders to attend ESIA disclosure meetings in Zambia and Zimbabwe, which were proposed to take place during April 2020.  In light of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) pandemic, the Authority and ERM made the decision to postpone all public disclosure meetings. This decision was in response to government-mandated travel restrictions and bans on gatherings of more than 100 people, which were imposed within certain southern African countries.

Given the ongoing level of global uncertainty associated with COVID-19, the Authority and ERM would like to disclose the ESIA findings using alternative methods currently available. 

You are invited to attend a ZOOM webinar where the key findings of the ESIA process will be shared with you. The meeting will include a presentation, following which participants will have the opportunity to interact with the project team, ask questions and provide comment. 

Meeting Time:

2 December 2020 at 09:30 AM

To register for the meeting, click on the link below, complete the registration and you will received a personal invitation to the webinar directly from ZOOM.

Availability of the Project ESIAs for Review & Comment

As a reminder, the draft ESIAs for the BGHES are available for public comment. Refer to Project website to access the ESIAs and non-technical summaries. 

Three separate draft ESIAs have been prepared for the Project as follows:

§  ESIA for the dam wall and impoundment, including spillway; surface power houses; the Project townships (in both Zambia and Zimbabwe); and other ancillary infrastructure (such as quarries, spoil areas, batching areas);

§  ESIA for Project access roads in both Zambia and Zimbabwe; and

§  ESIA for Project Transmission Lines in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The comment period, which has remained open since 03 March 2020 will be closing 25 January 2021.  Stakeholders are invited to submit all comments on the draft ESIAs to ERM as follows:

Email: | Post: Postnet Suite 90, Private Bag X12, Tokai, 7966

Tel: +27 21 681 5400 (South Africa)

+27 11 798 4300 (South Africa)  

+263 77 287 6616 (Zimbabwe)

+260 97 4074384 (Zambia)                         

Your comments will be incorporated into the Project ESIA comments and responses report, which will be included in the final ESIAs submitted to Zimbabwean and the Zambian Environmental Management Agencies (EMA and ZEMA) for consideration. Please ensure that your comments reach ERM on or before 25 January 2021.

For any further queries regarding the content of this letter, please feel free to contact us with the details included above. 

We look forward to your participation in this phase of the ESIA.

Yours sincerely                                                                       

The ERM Team

Environmental Resources Management (ERM)


Sunday 29 November 2020

Kazungula Bridge boosts Bots tourism

 Harare - The opening of Kazungula Bridge will boost tourist arrivals into Botswana’s tourism mecca of Kasane, the country’s Tourism Minister Philda Kereng has said.

The bridge straddles the Zambezi River at Kazungula Crossing where Botswana and Zambia share a border, and also stretches over the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet.

The 923m and US$259 million bridge is part of a broader infrastructure initiative that will ultimately connect the Port of Durban in South Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Botswana’s Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Minister Kereng said the bridge is expected to open to traffic this year.

The gateway to Chobe National Park, Kasane spreads out along the banks of the Chobe River where an array of hotels, guest houses and campsites can accommodate all the visitors to the world-renowned facility.

“This bridge has recently been handed over by the contractors, it is complete. It is a bridge that is quite a milestone for the economy of Botswana and for the tourism industry,” Minister Kereng said after touring the bridge last week.

“We appreciate this bridge very much especially at this point where we are diversifying tourism, Kasane becomes a much more diversified location or tourist destination. Also for tourists, when you go to London (England) for instance, you have the London Bridge and all these big rivers with nice bridges they are tourist attractions on their own so we are looking at this beautiful bridge and saying it is going to interest our tourists after seeing the animals there is also something else they can see. It will be able to enhance the face of Kasane.”

Minister Kereng went on: “We are also informed that this bridge is well blended into the ecosystem, the environment of Chobe. There is a railway line that has been incorporated into the bridge, and the interesting part is that this bridge has incorporated features that are friendly to the environment, we hear that there is a breeding place for hippos near the bridge and the rubber that has been used around the railway is going to absorb all the sound that would otherwise disturb the animals.”

Botswana recently allowed the resumption of chartered flights into the country's prime tourist destinations, in an attempt to boost the tourism sector which has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chartered flights are being allowed to land at two airports in Maun and Kasane, both in the vicinity of the vast Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest wetlands.

Tourism contributes around 13 percent to the So/uthern African country’s GDP./

Source: Kazungula Bridge boosts Bots tourism (28/11/20)

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Business activity picks-up in Vic-Falls

 Leonard Ncube

IMPROVED business activity is being recorded in Victoria Falls as tour operators and hoteliers gear up for the festive season.

Some of the hotels and lodges reportedly have significant bookings mostly from locals for the festive season, the first meaningful bookings since the end of March when the industry closed after the outbreak of Covid-19. Tour operators, hotels and lodges closed operations as the country joined the rest of the world to impose travel restrictions. The Government later gave the greenlight for re-opening of the sector with strict adherence to mitigation measures.

The industry has been slowly re-opening in Victoria Falls with African Sun being the first to reopen its properties – Elephant Hills and Kingdom Hotel, more than a month ago.

Shearwater Adventures re-opened its Shearwater Explorers Village Hotel last week while Africa Albida Tourism, which operates Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, The Boma and Lokuthula Lodges is set to open on December 10.

Several other hotels and lodges have also opened and many are offering up to 50 percent discounted rates particularly to domestic tourists.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) chair for the Victoria Falls chapter, Anald Musonza, said many operators were coming back to normal business. Shearwater chief executive Mr Mike Adams said they expect full bookings on accommodation for December.

“We had been on a roller-coaster over the years but Covid-19 is the biggest challenge we have ever encountered. We have just re-opened most of our facilities including Explorers Village and activities like boat cruise and we will be open until Christmas time when we expect a spike in December but January and February will be quiet,” he said.

Adams said they will be offering special discounts to make products affordable to locals. He said the industry will start realizing meaningful business next year.

“There are tough times ahead but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Borders are opening slowly, which is good but for now income streams are still turned off,” he said.

Adams said he was hopeful that clients who had booked when Covid-19 broke out and have not cancelled their trips will rebook next year.

Shearwater Explorers Village was opened four years ago with 16 chalets and has expanded into a 96-room facility

The industry is recovering from headwinds caused by the Coronavirus, which has disrupted global travel and economic activity. Some operators have managed to retain most of the staff while others laid off three-quarters of workers.

Source: Business activity picks-up in Vic-Falls (24/11/20)

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Two cargo trucks sink in Zambezi

 Kazungula police are investigating two rare and bizarre accidents in which two trucks sank into the Zambezi River as they attempted to board the Kazungula ferry on Saturday and Monday respectively.

According to Kazungula Police Station Commander Superintendent Paul Chaluza, in the first incident on Saturday, a truck carrying building material from South Africa to Zambia slid off the pontoon and fell into the Zambezi River.

“The surface is sloping and slippery, and from what we’ve learnt, the truck never made it fully onto the ferry before it slid into the river.

Fortunately, the drivers managed to quickly jump out of the cabin and onto the ferry before the trucks were fully submerged,” said Chaluza.

The Station Commander further revealed that no one was hurt in the accident.

“The truck was also successfully pulled out of the river the same day,” he said.

However, just two days later on Monday afternoon, another truck hauling salt from South Africa to Zambia suffered the same fate, as the trailer head slid-off the pontoon into the river, carrying with it tons of salt.

“Just like in the Saturday incident, the driver managed to escape unharmed,” Chaluza told The Voice.

He further said the cause of the accident is not conclusive and their investigations continue.

“We can’t say accidents were due to human error, the cause could be mechanical, and as I told you, the area is sloping and slippery. We can only be certain after the completion of our investigations,” he said.

The costs of the damage are yet to be compounded, but it is estimated to run into millions of Pula.

The Kazungula top cop however said the incidents of sinking tricks are rare in his jurisdiction.

“These are isolated incidents. It does happen but not in quick succession like we experienced this week,” he said.

Estimated to have started operating in Botswana in the mid-60s, the pontoon’s days as a reliable mode of transport are numbered with the new impressive Kazungula Bridge due to open for business on 1st of December.

Source: Two cargo trucks sink in Zambezi (17/11/20)

Monday 9 November 2020

Victoria Falls Town to be redesigned

 THE Government is planning to redesign Victoria Falls Town which will see some buildings demolished and reconstructed to maximise on the “little” available land as the local authority transforms into a city.

Parliament recently approved that Victoria Falls be granted city status, a development that will catapult the tourism resort town to growth.

The city status comes along with additional responsibilities and the local authority will need more land for infrastructure development among other changes. What is left is for President Mnangagwa to make the official pronouncement and if granted the status, Victoria Falls will be the first city based on tourism industry in the country.

Victoria Falls was designated a Special Economic Zone and is central to a cocktail of developments comprising Masuwe, Batoka town, Mlibizi, Binga, Sijalila and Gwayi-Shangani. Local Government and Public Works Minister Cde July Moyo told Parliament that planning and designing of a mixed-use development for the Victoria Falls Mixed Commercial use project has started. Victoria Falls Town is situated on 2 900ha of land and cannot expand because it is surrounded by national parks.

“There is a detailed plan about the development of Victoria Falls itself. The present Victoria Falls is sitting on 2 900ha and we want to preserve that as it is. The additionalities are outside those 2 900ha and we want to redevelop. The town is host to significant Government real estate which unfortunately is in a dilapidated state. To this end, 35 houses around the city centre have been identified for redevelopment. The houses are sitting on approximately 3,5 hectares and this needs redevelopment and regeneration. As you go into Victoria Falls, you see houses on your left before you reach OK Stores, those houses belong to Government and there are large tracks of land and we are saying as Government, let us densify and create an ambiance that will attract investors,” said Minister Moyo.

He said the municipality had already come up with a development model which will soon be tabled before Cabinet for approval.

The new developments will see the Vehicle Inspection Depot (VID) being relocated while some old buildings owned by Government in parts of Chinotimba old suburb will be demolished and upgraded. The council has also indicated about ongoing engagements towards relocating the Zimbabwe National Army Victoria Falls barrack.

“They have even said let us move the VID so that it does not create the noise that it is creating today. So the municipality has been preparing and in some case has attracted investment already and when it attains the municipality status, Government must recognise that it has grown,” added Minister Moyo.

The minister said the municipality had since awarded a Design and Construct Commercial Contract on a Build-Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis to Cardinal Corporation Private Limited for expansion projects. The Government wants to develop Victoria Falls into its conference capital and to show commitment, there are close partnerships by Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry as well as Local Government and Public Works.

Source: Victoria Falls Town to be redesigned (08/11/20)

Thursday 5 November 2020

Vic Falls Residents Forced To Use Bush Toilet As Water Shortages Rock Town

 VICTORIA FALLS: The tourism town of Victoria Falls is facing an unprecedented water crisis that has seen residents in parts of Mkhosana going for a fortnight without the precious liquid.

The worst affected dwellers are those in Mfelandawonye, BD847, BD848, and BD46 sections which have not had water in their taps for more than two weeks.

What characterises most households now are an offensive strong stink of poo as there is no water to flush toilets posing a huge health time bomb to a town that is set to be granted city status.

Some residents have resorted to using the bush to relieve themselves with open defecation now rife.

The municipality has restored to supply the residents with water bowsers and long winding queues of thirsty residents jostling to fill their buckets as they endure the hot weather without water.

Residents are pressuring the residents’ association to stage a demonstration against the local council and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) which pumps bulk water to the municipality.

The residents believe there is a lack of commitment from the council and ZINWA as the water shortages have become a perennial challenge.

Every year between September and December, the resort town’s residents have to endure the hot weather with no water.

Unlike other towns, there are no boreholes in Victoria Falls because of the Kalahari soils and depth of water table.

“The situation is dire. Some areas have not had water for two weeks and you can imagine how people are surviving. Having to hunt for water each morning. This is happening when hotels are closed and where demand is low. Imagine if the whole industry was open, we would have had waterborne diseases. People are now using the bush to relieve themselves and we fear disease outbreak,” said one resident.

Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association chairperson, Kelvin Moyo called for calm saying engagement with the authorities was underway.

“Our town is faced with an unprecedented water crisis that has affected both residents and business. Residents are agitated and want to demonstrate. We are aware of the urgency this matter requires and as such we will be convening a tripartite meeting with ZINWA and council management. The situation needs to be attended to with a sober mind in order to resolve the perennial challenge,” said Moyo.

Source: Vic Falls Residents Forced To Use Bush Toilet As Water Shortages Rock Town (4/11/20)

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Traditionalists cleanse Vic Falls

 Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter

The elders from Victoria Falls and surrounding areas finally conducted a cleansing ceremony on Saturday.

The community under Chief Mvutu covering Monde, Chisuma, Chidobe, Sizinda, Kachechete, Jengwe and Victoria Falls town is convinced that some of the calamities happening in their communities are a result of the anger of the “gods” hence conducting of rituals was now necessary.

Only a few selected elders from the Muzamba family representing the Tokaleya clan went to the shrine for the rituals.

The rest of the villagers patiently waited at one of the Muzamba’s homesteads for two things – good news that the cleansing ceremony had gone well and the start of merry making characterised by drinking traditional beer and eating meat.

The traditionalists believe cleansing the area and reviving such events will atone for the sins of the community and prevent famines, diseases, increased frequency of natural disasters including drowning in Zambezi River and attack by wild animals which they say are a result of defilement of sacred places.

A group of elders from the Muzamba family who are descendants of the Tokaleya clan, the original inhabitants of the area, conducted the ceremony at the Makonga shrine that had been abandoned for decades in a bush near Phakama Village between Chidobe and Chisuma.

The family’s spirit medium Gogo Margaret Muzamba and Mr Jafuta Muzamba led the rituals that involved singing, dancing and incantations directed at the clan’s ancestors to forgive the community.

They poured traditional beer on the ground and into a hole under a tree believed to be a haven for a snake that used to emerge during rituals.

Mr Muzamba said they used to conduct rituals such as rain making ceremonies at the shrine.

He said sacred places such as the Big Tree near the Victoria Falls Rainforest, Gorges Lodge and Katombora in Zambezi National Park where some human bones are said to be scattered on the ground, will also be visited.

Some of the places have been occupied by open air churches or fenced off by tour operating companies.

“This is where our ancestors used to conduct rainmaking ceremonies every September and perform other rituals to prevent dangers. There was a snake at this shrine and some drums that could be heard from inside the tree trunk during the ceremonies. We are trying to revive all these practices that had long been abandoned because of interference from other cultures,” said Mr Muzamba.

He said the ceremony will be made an annual event as part of the revival of cultural practices,

Mr Muzamba said a fence will be erected around the shrine to protect the place.

Some churches had reportedly started conducting services at the tree while villagers also go there to pick baobab fruits.

“The chief once approached us after some churches started conducting services here. This is part of what defiled all the sacred places as people disrespect custom,” said Mr Muzamba.

The Tokaleya clan is a group of Tonga people also found across the Zambezi River in Zambia under Chief Mukuni and in Zimbabwe are linked to Chief Dingani-Nelukoba of Mabale.

Gogo Muzamba, who took over from Gogo Chibumbuluke who was the family’s spirit medium, said while the shrine had been cleansed, it will take time for the calamites to end.

“All these calamities are a result of abandonment and disrespect of culture. When we were growing up, no one was allowed to play in the Zambezi River or cross without performing a ritual like throwing something valuable in water. All this stopped because we had abandoned our culture and the situation wwas worsned by the disrespect of some churches and strangers,” said Gogo Muzamba.

“Even if you go to church, it is important to respect your own culture and that of other people. It will take time for these calamities to end because the damage had already been done but we are happy to be able to appease the spirits to save our culture and society at large. We wish the young generation can be taught about this.”

The traditionalists implored authorities to consult traditional leaders before initiating any infrastructural projects to avoid tampering with sacred places.-@ncubeleon

Source: Traditionalists cleanse Vic Falls (13/10/20)

Friday 9 October 2020

Daewoo E&C Completes Construction of Kazungula Bridge in Botswana

 Daewoo Engineering & Construction (E&C) has completed Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River in Botswana, Africa.

Daewoo E&C said on Oct. 8 that it received a taking-over certificate from the Botswanan and Zambian governments on Sept. 5, along with a certificate of 10 million accident-free hours.

The bridge is the first extradosed bridge construction project that Daewoo E&C won overseas in 2014.

Kazungula Bridge is a 923-meter-long, 18.5-meter-wide extradosed bridge with a 687-meter-long access road and a 2,170-meter-long single-track railway. The bridge is expected to improve the transportation and logistics infrastructure around the region.

As Kazungula Bridge is a bridge with a railway and a road, the safety of the bridge itself significantly matters. Therefore, an extradosed bridge model was applied to it as it can widen distances between piers and has an advantage in vibration control.

An extradosed bridge is a bridge where a girder-reinforcing cable is attached to the main tower like the cable of a cable-stayed bridge. The exterior of an extradosed bridge looks like a cable-stayed bridge. But the height of its tower is lower than that of a cable-stayed bridge so the cable plays a relatively small role in buttressing the upper layer of the bridge. Therefore, the upper layer should be designed to be stronger.

An extradosed bridge is structurally more advantageous than a cable-stayed bridge as a railway bridge.

Kazungula Bridge has six main towers standing in a row, which provides a fine view. It is expected to become a landmark in the region.

Source: Daewoo E&C Completes Construction of Kazungula Bridge in Botswana (08/10/20)

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Victoria Falls re-activates helicopter flights

 Operators of helicopter flights popularly known as "Flight of Angels" above the Victoria Falls have activated their systems in anticipation of return of tourists following the reopening of the sector.

Helicopter flights were automatically suspended when countries imposed travel bans as there were no travellers to take up the popular activity.

The Flight of Angels is the only opportunity for tourists to view the upper and lower Zambezi River including the gorges, magnificent Victoria Falls and bridge, both on the Zambian and Zimbabwean side.

Chikopokopo Helicopters, Zambezi Helicopters and Bonisairare are the three operators based in the resort town. The recent resumption of domestic flights and the anticipated start of regional travel has reignited hope for helicopter operators.

Chikopokopo workers are already on site and Covid-19 guidelines such as hand washing and sanitising provisions have been put in place.

The company's proprietor, Mr Lloyd Muchaka, said they have come up with packages for domestic tourists as they are ready to resume flights.

"We are very much prepared and we have been communicating with the regulatory authority (Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe) and it seems like everything is in order," he said.

"We are excited by the coming of flights like Fastjet and we have been getting inquiries mainly from domestic tourists. We are hoping very soon we will be getting some from the region," said Mr Muchaka.

Fastjet resumed scheduled flights last Thursday while Ethiopian Airlines is expected to start tomorrow. Mr Muchaka said operators were looking forward to opening of borders, particularly the South Africa and Botswana borders.

"People are waiting for things to happen but we are getting inquiries and hopefully we will be able to sustain numbers. We are excited to welcome tourists back in the new normal. For now, we will be flying smaller families and making sure they are sanitised, masked as we have put in place necessary health guidelines. As clients come in, they will be sanitised and temperature checked," he said.

"I don't think it will be an easy road but somebody has to sacrifice. We have reduced our prices by about 25 percent as we put in place packages to lure domestic clients."

The tourism industry is generally sceptical about resuming most activities owing to low numbers of clients so far.