Africa’s longest suspension bridge, the Maputo–Katembe Bridge in Mozambique costing a whopping US $750m has officially been opened to traffic.
The entire structure, financed by China and built by China Road and Bridge Corporation, is nearly 3km long, comprising a kilometre-long ramp on either side of a 680-metre span over Maputo Bay, which opens onto the Indian Ocean.The poject began construction in June 2014.
The bridge will connect Katembe on the southern bank and Maputo on the northern bank. It also plays a vital role in connecting South Africa to Mozambique reducing travel time from 6 hours to 90 minutes between Maputo to Kosi Bay – KwaZulu-Natal’s east coast border post.
The project includes 200 kilometers of roads and five connecting smaller bridges between Maputo and Ponta do Ouro, in the south of the country, close to the South African border. The project however faced a number challenges over the years.
In 1989, a proposal of the bridges was drafted as part of the urbanization policy. The World Bank endorsed it but the project was later shelved after years of unrest in the country. In 2010, José Sócrates, the then Portuguese Prime Minister offered to fund the project.
The China Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) obtained the construction as a loan agreement. A delay in the construction was also encountered due to resettlement disagreement of about 900 families.
The construction of the bridge and links roads aided in domestic contribution to providing 3000 jobs to the local population, transfer of technology to local people and auxiliary projects such as local schools and houses for resettled families.
The bridge surpasses the Matadi Bridge in the Democratic Republic of Congo which previously held the title of longest suspension bridge. Apart from being Africa’s new longest suspension bridge, the Maputo-Catembe will also be ranked among the 60 largest suspended bridges in the world.