Mozambique’s president Filipe Nyusi opened a Chinese-built bridge in the capital Maputo on Saturday that cost $785 million, saying it would help link northern and southern Africa.
The twin-tower suspension bridge stands 141 metres above Maputo Bay, is 680 metres-long and joins the city centre to the outlying district of Katembe.
“Today is a unique day of our history, the achievement of the dream of (former president) Samora Machel,” Nyusi said at a rally following the inauguration.
“With the completion of this bridge… the connection of southern Africa to the north over land and across our country is guaranteed.”
The bridge, which connects the north and south banks of Maputo that were previously linked only by boat, would help promote tourism, Nyusi said.
It will also directly link the capital to the border of neighbouring South Africa by road for the first time.
The bridge will see the travel time between Maputo to Kosi Bay reduced from six hours to 90 minutes.
One of the South African engineers on the project, Lawrence James Lovell Greene, said there is a lot of joy now that people can “finally cross the bay instead of having to use the very dangerous and unreliable ferry.
“South Africans can hold their heads high – we in fact were given a commendation from the Concrete Society in SA for concrete of the highest quality (lab tested in SA) as the bridge is designed for over a 100 year design life.”
According to Chinese media outlet, Xinhua, this is the longest suspension bridge in Africa. It forms part of China’s Links Roads project, and is built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, with “Chinese financing and standards” (the financing amounting to a reported $750 million).
The bridge was a dream of former Mozambique president Samora Machel. The charge to cross the bridge will be approximately $3.
History of the Maputo-Catembe Bridge
The bridge from Maputo to Catembe in southern Mozambique is now officially the longest suspension bridge in Africa, surpassing the record previously held by Matadi Bridge in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mammoth project began as a vision of former Mozambican President Samora Machel. In 1989, plans for an improved transportation network, which included the proposal of a bridge, as part of Maputo’s urbanisation policy, were endorsed by the World Bank.
However, years of unrest as a result of Mozambique’s civil war shelved the construction of the bridge. Thanks to renewed investor confidence in Mozambique, the project regained momentum in 2008. In 2010, then-Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates, offered to fund the construction of the Maputo-Catembe Bridge.
The Portuguese plans fell through and in 2011 China jumped at the opportunity to fund the construction of the bridge as part of its Links Roads project. Construction was delayed due to protracted resettlement disagreements concerning Malanga locals.