Transport

A Tale of Suspense

The Maputo-Catembe Bridge

An iconic structure, the Maputo-Catembe Bridge is another shining component of Mozambique's comprehensive infrastructure overhaul.

According to World Bank data, Mozambique’s road density per land area is low at 46m/sqm. What’s more, of Mozambique’s total road network, only 6,000km are paved. The remaining 31,000km thus spell an opportunity for the many local and international engineering and construction companies that are competing for tenders in the country.

One of the latest companies wining a highly interesting project is the China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) awarded the construction of an engineering structure that will become the largest suspension bridge on the African continent, and among the top 50 in the world. This bridge will link Mozambique’s capital with Catembe, on the other side of Maputo’s bay. The first stone of the Maputo-Catembe Bridge was laid at the end of 2012, but it was only in 2014 that construction proper began. The total cost of the project is $725 million, $681.6 of which was funded by a loan guaranteed by the China Export Import Bank (ExIm). The government of Mozambique will have 20 years to repay the loan at an interest rate of 4%, which is why the future bridge will have four tollbooths to contribute towards repayment for the state of the art infrastructure.

The project includes a northern viaduct of 1,097m, a south viaduct of 1,234m, and the bridge itself of 680m in length, standing 60m over the water. The project entails a total of around 3km of road with a two by two lane of 20.88m in width. The two bridge towers, each of 137m in height, have been designed so as not to interfere with maritime navigation in the bay. The works should be completed by the end of 2017 and will allow the expansion of the already congested Maputo city toward the south. In fact, Catembe could see tenfold growth in population over the next 10 years with the strategically demarcated urban projects expected to see development. This includes 3,200ha of residential area, a logistic platform of more than 1,000ha, green area of over 1,500ha and 500 hectares for touristic use near the Indian Ocean.

As important as the bridge itself, is the road network that will be developed within this project, also by CRBC. New roads of more than 200km in length will link Bela Vista with Boane and Catembe with Ponta d’Ouro, one of the favorite weekend destinations of Maputo residents. This route, which takes about 4 hours today, could be halved once all infrastructure is in place. This new road network will also facilitate the route Maputo-Durban, improving communications between Mozambique and South Africa.

Detractors may argue that the government could allocate related revenue elsewhere as the crossing is covered by regular ferry service. Nonetheless, the Maputo-Catembre Bridge will stand as a functioning symbol of Mozambique’s drive to develop communications, connectivity and commerce.

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