South African Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has officially opened the Swarkopfontein Bridge which will make travel between South Africa and Botswana easier as well as strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

“This whole project of the road and bridge construction cost 78.5 million Rand (about 5.85 million US dollars) and 51 full time jobs were created over the 23-month contract period,” Peters said Monday when opening the bridge across the Notwane River which serves as the border between the two countries.

She said the labour was sourced from the the two countries, with most of the construction material used coming from Botswana.

Peters was joined by her counterpart in Botswana, Minister of Transport and Communications Onkokame K Mokaila, during the official opening of Swarkopfontein Bridge at the Swartkopfontein Border Post in North West Province.

The road to the bridge in South Africa was upgraded from a gravel to an asphalt surface and included the construction of the 80-metre long Notwane River Bridge.

The construction of the road and bridge to link the border posts of Swartkopfontein came after a memorandum of agreement was signed in July 2014, in which the governments of the two countries agreed to promote cross-border trade, economic activity and regional integration.

Part of the agreement included a practical initiative to upgrade roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure. The Swartkopfontein entry point is located between the commercial border posts of Kopfontein and Skilpadshek and now offers a convenient alternative for commuters who make the journey.

“I have no doubt that it will relieve the pressure on traffic between Zeerust in South Africa and the towns of Gaborone, Lobatse and Ramotswa in Botswana. This will lead to a safer travel experience for commuters within the region,” Peters said.