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Mozambique’s President has officially inaugurated the longest suspension bridge in Africa, which is now open to the public. The three-kilometre-long suspension bridge straddles the Indian Ocean inlet of the Espirito Santo estuary, hovering 60 metres above the water, linking the cities of Maputo and Catembe.

Africas largest suspension bridge inaugurated

Built by the Chinese over four years, the Maputo-Catembe Bridge has been planned since the 1980’s. 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 put the construction of the bridge on hold until 2010 when then-Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates, offered to fund the construction.

The Portuguese plans fell through, and China jumped at the opportunity to fund the construction of the bridge as part of its Links Roads project in 2011. Construction was delayed due to protracted resettlement disagreements concerning Malanga locals, but the bridge was finally completed this year.

China’s Roads and Bridges Construction (CRBC) funded the construction at a cost of $785 million through a loan to Mozambique by China’s Import and Export, EXIM bank. The bridge provides a direct land connection between the two sides of Maputo Bay for the first time. Boasting a span of 700 meters and two approach ramps over two kilometres long, the bridge construction used 75 tonnes of steel and 300 000 cubic metres of concrete.

The Chinese company employed 3800 local and 450 Chinese workers, as well as 50 engineers and consultants from countries such as Germany, England, Russia and Greece. The bridge project also involved the construction of 180km of road linking Katembe to Ponta do Ouro, which boarders Mozambique and South Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs confirmed that the bridge, which involved South African engineers in its construction, would stimulate trade and tourism between the two countries. The new road will see the travel time between Maputo to Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal’s East coast border post, drastically reduced, from 6 hours to 90 minutes.

In addition to the Maputo-Catembe bridge, the CBRC is in charge of building the Maputo Circular Road and another in Niassa province, which runs to the border with Malawi, with funding from the African Development Bank.

Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUdnLhJ7FQA

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