Mozambique: First Payment for Suspension Bridge Due Next Year

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Mozambique debt.

Maputo — Mozambique's Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, has confirmed that the first payment of interest to the Chinese Exim Bank, which financed the suspension bridge over the Bay of Maputo, is due next year.

Speaking to the independent television station STV, Maleiane said that the first "coupon", as the annual interest payment is known, falls due next year. He did not say how much it would be.

The loan from the Exim bank for the bridge between central Maputo and the outlying municipal district of Katembe, and for the 187 kilometres of connecting roads from Katembe to Bela Vista, the tourist resort of Ponta de Ouro, and the border with the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal was 783 million US dollars.

The bridge and the roads are operated by the public company Maputo-Sul. Surprisingly, Maleiane suggested that repaying the loan is Maputo-Sul's responsibility.

"From the calculations made so far, we have concluded that Maputo-Sul does not yet have enough revenue to pay the debt, and so the government will pay", said Maleiane. "In the future, the company will repay the amount to the state".

That is certainly not how Maputo-Sul views the matter. A source in the company, cited by STV's sister publication, the daily paper "O Pais", said that the entire matter is in the hands of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, since the government had rejected proposals from Maputo-Sul on how to handle the det.

Furthermore, payments for the bridge and road may already have begun, since the government's own report on budgetary execution for the first nine months of 2018 says that an increase in debt servicing is due in part to repaying the loan from the Exim Bank.

There is a toll gate on the bridge, and three tollgates are planned for the connecting roads (only one of which is currently operational). But, according to Maputo-Sul the money raised from the tolls is not intended to repay the loan, but to ensure maintenance of the bridge. The costs of maintenance could be as high as 1.2 million dollars a year.

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