Mozambique: Road Connection Across Montepuez River Re-Established

Maputo — The road connection between the southern and northern districts of Cabo Delgado province has been re-established, thanks to the construction of a causeway across the Montepuez river in Quissanga district, running parallel to the bridge that collapsed on 27 December, as flood waters swept away the central pillars.

This cut off the flow of traffic from the provincial capital, Pemba and the south of the province, to the northern districts of Muidumbe, Mueda, Nangade, Mocimboa da Praia and Palma.

When the level of the Montepuez fell, the government improvised an alternative way of crossing the river, using a metallic bridge and a causeway built on top of boulders. Pedestrians and light vehicles could cross. But this way of fording the river, known as a drift, was only viable as long as the water remained shallow.

The drift worked for a few days in late January. But at the end of the month, the Montepuez rose again, and the waters swept over the drift.

A second causeway has now been installed. Mozambique's Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, witnessed the resumption of traffic between the two banks of the Montepuez on Saturday.

Cited in Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Machatine said major advances had been made in repairing a second cut to the main road north, this time over the Messalo river, in Muidumbe district.

"At the bridge over the Messalo, about 90 per cent of the work has been done", said the Minister. "Erecting a metallic bridge on the diversion has begun, and if there are no unforeseen circumstances, traffic on that section of road will also be re-established".

"Right now, while lasting solutions are still being prepared, we are making emergency interventions", he added.

The new causeway across the Montepuez is only a temporary measure. It can carry pedestrians and light vehicles, but nothing weighing more than 15 tonnes can use it. Should there be any further flooding on the Montepuez - which is by no means unlikely, since the rainy season will continue until the end of March - the causeway will again be submerged, and traffic between the two banks will be interrupted again.

Machatine said a definitive solution to the bridge over the Montepuez could be found this year. Work could begin in April and he put the cost at between 12 and 13 million dollars.

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