The longest suspension bridge in Africa is under construction in Mozambique. The Maputo-Catembe Bridge is a giant at three kilometres long and 60 meters above sea level.
The bridge, the construction of which is being overseen by a Chinese company and financed by a Chinese loan, will span the Maputo Bay and connect Maputo to the south of the country, bringing Mozambique closer to South Africa.
However, this titanic project, a symbol of the economic boom that Mozambique has experienced in recent years, could suffer from the serious crisis that the country is now facing, as the State’s finances are practically dry.
Promoters of the Maputo-Catembe Bridge maintain that the project will soon be complete. But for now, the bridge structure is slowly emerging from the ground. Silva Magaia, President of Maputo Sul, the public company that oversees the project, explained that: “You see this open space here? It is here that the famous shanty town of Malanga was located. We had to move 400 families – that is 2,000 people. This is one of the challenges that explain why the project advances very slowly”.
Questions about financing the project:
A toll system will be established to cushion the costs incurred by this huge project, explains Magaia. “When we speak of Maputo-Catembe Bridge, we talk about the bridge and 200 kilometres of road under construction. The overall project has a budget of US$785-million. The challenge is the national funding share of the project, which is covered by the State Budget. Since the beginning of the crisis, we have some difficulties in respecting the work schedule”.
Fatima Mimbire, analyst at the Centre for Public Integrity (Centre pour l’intégrité, CPI), denounces the opacity of a project with far-reaching costs.
“There is a concern about their ability to finish this project within the allocated budget. What will happen if there is extra cost? How will they find the money? Unfortunately, the details of the loan signed with the Chinese are not public. I do not even think that parliament is aware of it”.
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