Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza today, in separate ceremonies, laid the first stones in two enormous construction projects - the Maputo Ring Road, and the bridge over the Bay of Maputo, linking the centre of the capital to the outlying municipal district of Katembe.
The same contractor, the China Road and Bridge Corporation, will build both projects, budgeted at a total of 1.04 billion US dollars - 725 million dollars for the bridge, and the associated road from Katembe to Ponta de Ouro, on the South African border, and 315 million dollars for the Ring Road.
85 per cent of the funds for the bridge (681.6 million dollars) takes the form of a commercial loan from the Exim Bank of China. A further ten per cent is a soft loan, also from the Exim Bank, while the remaining five per cent comes from the Mozambican state budget. The funding for the Ring Road is also a loan from the Exim Bank.
The Ring Road will have six sections. All will be dual carriageways, and the full length of the road will be 74 kilometres. 52 kilometres will be built from scratch, and the remaining 22 kilometres will consist of rehabilitating and upgrading existing roads.
The Ring Road will be able to carry 3,600 vehicles an hour in each direction. It will link the country's main north-south highway to the Maputo-South Africa motorway.
Thus motorists wishing to go from other parts of the country to South Africa or vice versa will no longer have to drive through the middle of Maputo. It is hoped that this will greatly ease the congestion on Maputo roads.
According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Ring Road and the bridge should both be completed within two and a half years.
Speaking at the Thursday ceremonies, Guebuza said the bridge will allow all of Maputo to be linked by road to the south of the country (currently travellers to Ponta de Ouro and the border with the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal must use a ferry to cross the bay of Maputo, and the existing road south from Katembe is in poor condition).
Guebuza was confident that the bridge will stimulate development in Katembe, in the neighbouring district of Boane, and in the Ponta de Ouro area. As for the ring road, it would ease traffic in Maputo and Matola, and in Marracuene district, and encourage development in the northern suburbs of Maputo.
Guebuza thanked the Chinese authorities for their support, and urged Mozambican citizens "to know how to use these infrastructures as instruments in the struggle against poverty".
The Ring Road and the bridge, he added, "are to serve all of us, and so we must know how to value them".
The mayor of Maputo, David Simango, told journalists attending the ceremonies that the construction of the bridge will create 3,000 jobs and the Ring Road between 1,500 and 2,000. The vast majority of these jobs will go to Mozambican citizens.