Maputo — Work on building a metallic bridge across the Licungo river in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, linking Namacurra district on the west bank, to Maganja da Costa, Mocubela and Pebane on the east, began on Tuesday.
The Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, accompanied by Zambezia provincial governor Abdul Razak, laid the first stone.
The Mozambican government is financing the bridge, which will cost 914 million meticais (about 14.8 million dollars, at current exchange rates) disbursed by the government's Road Fund. The contractor is the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which also built the suspension bridge over the Bay of Maputo, linking the centre of the Mozambican capital to the outlying district of Katembe.
The bridge will be 925 metres long and seven metres wide. It should be completed within a year. The construction work will provide jobs for about 100 people.
The previous bridge was destroyed by massive flooding on the Licungo in early 2015. People from Pebane and Maganja da Costa districts who wanted to travel to Malei, on the Namacurra bank of the river, had to make an enormous detour to reach another river crossing. That journey, from Pebane, was 400 kilometres long and took seven hours.
Machatine said that, with the new bridge, the journey from Pebane to Malei would be cut to 120 kilometres, and from Maganja da Costa town to Malei, the distance would be just 50 kilometres.
The Minister explained that the scale of the damage to the bridge was such that "it required large sums of money for its repair. So the government drew up a technical solution that would be possible with the funds available. That solution involves the construction of this metallic bridge which will guarantee the flow of traffic".
He added that the government will continue seeking funds to build a conventional bridge at Malei.
The new bridge, he continued, was a further unequivocal demonstration of the government's efforts to improve conditions for the circulation of people and goods, and thus stimulate economic development.
Machatine believed that Namacurra, Maganja da Costa, Movubela and Pebane districts "will, thanks to this bridge, make a gigantic leap in income generation from the agricultural and fisheries potential they possess. With the bridge concluded, access to the main markets will be facilitated. The public will expand its income base, and the cost of living will fall substantially".