Africa’s largest suspension bridge and its link roads are under construction in Mozambique in a massive project by the Mozambican and Chinese governments.
The bridge, which will cross Maputo Bay, will cut the driving time from the border with KwaZulu-Natal to Maputo by about four hours. Basilio Nzunga, a civil and structural engineer with the project, said the bridge would span 680m and stand 60m above sea level. With two lanes in both directions, it would link Maputo to Katembe across the Bay of Maputo and adjoining roads to the border town of Ponto de Ouro. Nzunga said the project would create 1 500 jobs for mostly Mozambicans over the next two years. Construction began in June last year and was due to be completed in December 2017.
Ferries currently carry people and goods across the bay with the alternative, of driving around, taking hours. Roads to South Africa were at present only accessible by 4×4, but will be upgraded as part of the project.
Nzunga was making a presentation of the R9.8 billion project to delegates in Maputo for the East3Route, a trade and tourism expedition between Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and the Seychelles this week.
KZN MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mike Mabuyakhulu, said he was thrilled by the project saying the bad condition of the road connecting the province’s northern most town of Kosi Bay and Ponto de Ouro in Mozambique was an issue they had raised on the first East3Route expedition five years ago.
With hundreds of thousands of people travelling between the two countries through border gates in KwaZulu-Natal every month, the bridge and linking roads would have a great impact on tourism said chief executive of KZN Tourism, Ndabo Khoza.
“The drive from Maputo to Kosi Bay is 90km but, because the roads are so bad, it takes up to six hours by 4×4, this project will cut that considerably. This will mean easier access not only for tourism but for trade as well,”
There were also plans to upgrade the border gate. Mabuyakhulu said he was grateful to the Mozambican government for the gesture of goodwill. He said the bridge and linking roads was a perfect example of the successes of neighbouring countries working together.
“This is truly one of the tangible legacy projects of the East3Route. It will make it possible for one to have breakfast in Durban, lunch in Mbabane (Swaziland) and dinner in Maputo.” Mabuyakhulu said this project was part of the realisation of the integration of the south east African region, moving the idea of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative from an idea to a practice.
The initiative is a cross-border project to develop the area shared by South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland.