MAPUTO – Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated on Saturday the longest suspension bridge in Africa, which was completely financed by China and connects the capital Maputo with the bucolic southern district of Catembe.
The Maputo-Catembe bridge, which now spans 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) in length, is the most expensive infrastructure built since the independence of Mozambique from Portugal in 1975, with a total cost of $785 million, 95 percent of which was financed by a line of credit from China. The Asian country has also contributed in terms of labor and raw materials.
“This day has no equal in our history. The dream of (former President) Samora Machel that was inherited wisely by Joaquim Chissano and launched by Armando Guebuza became true,” Nyusi said during the inauguration ceremony.
The Exim Bank of China was the project’s main investor: to repay the loan, the bridge is set to collect tolls over the next two decades, with a grace period of five years and an interest rate of 4 percent, according to local media in the southeastern African country.
During its four years of construction – in which 75 tons of steel and 300,000 cubic meters (10.6 million cubic feet) of concrete have been used – 3,800 Mozambicans and 450 Chinese worked there, as well as 50 engineering and consultant companies from various countries, including Germany, England, Russia and Greece.
The bridge has two main roads and links the southern and northern banks of Maputo Bay, which measures nearly 180 km of roads between the municipal district of Katambe and the touristic resort of Punta de Oro located near the border with South Africa.
“With the completion of the works of the section that will connect it with the Unity Bridge, it will be possible to travel by road from Cape Province, in South Africa, to North Africa, crossing the whole extension of our country,” Nyusi added.
Some critics have slammed the Maputo-Catembe bridge because of its high costs of construction and maintenance, as well as the high public debt facing Mozambique, which is set to reach 130.7 percent of its total GDP in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.