Mozambique opens $785m Chinese built bridge

Sunday November 11 2018

A general view of the newly inaugurated

A general view of the newly inaugurated Maputo-Katembe bridge in Maputo. Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi opened the Chinese-built $785 million bridge on November 10, 2018, saying it would help link northern and southern Africa. PHOTO | AFP 

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Mozambique has opened $785m Chinese-built Africa's longest suspension bridge connecting the capital Maputo with the South African border.

The infrastructure masterpiece, inaugurated by President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday, will link the two countries by road for the first time.

President Nyusi said the bridge was an achievement of the dream of Mozambique's first President Samora Machel.

The project, which the China Road and Bridge Corporation began constructing in June 2014, was supported 90 percent by a loan provided by Beijing, increasing the southern African state's indebtedness to the latter significantly.

Some analysts have questioned the importance of the bridge to Mozambique.

"The country had other priorities than this expensive bridge," VOA Radio quoted, Mr Roberto Tibana, an economist as saying.

The Asian giant

But the National Roads Administration head, Mr César Macuácua, was quoted saying the bridge would develop the region as 4,000 vehicles will cross it every day.

The twin-tower suspension bridge stands 141 metres above the Maputo Bay. It is 680 metres-long and joins the Maputo city centre to the outlying district of Katembe.

Mozambique and China cooperate in several areas.

In 2016, President Filipe Nyusi paid China a four-day state visit aimed at reviving the economic cooperation with the Asian giant.

The Chinese ambassador to Maputo, Mr Su Jian, was quoted saying the project would create more than 3,000 jobs for Mozambique.

Mining concession

Chinese firms have often been criticised for exploiting the southern African country.

In April, Amnesty International accused a Chinese mining firm of putting an entire Mozambique coastal village at risk by its operations.

The human rights watchdog said in a report that Nagonha village could be washed into the Indian Ocean due to the irresponsible mining by Chinese firm Haiyu.

Nagonha is a fishing village with 1,329 residents living in 236 huts, about 180km east of Nampula City.

The village is located inside a mining concession which was awarded to Haiyu Mozambique Mining Co. Lda, a subsidiary of Hainan Haiyu Mining Co. Ltd based in China, on December 19, 2011.