Contract awarded for new Zambezi bridge

By Richard High13 July 2010

The Mozambique government has awarded the construction contract for a new US$ 132 million bridge across the Zambezi River to the Estradas de Zambeze consortium.

The consortium, which consists of Portugal's Soares da Costa (40%) and Mota Engil (40%), and Mozambique's Infra-engineering (20%), have been granted a 20 year concession, renewable for a further 10, "if need arises", according to Deputy Justice Minister Alberto Mkutumula.

Formal construction of the bridge, which started last October, is scheduled for 15 July with completion expected in January 2014.

The new bridge will cross the Zambezi River at Benga in the inland province of Tete, about 6 km downstream from the Samora Machel Bridge. The area is rich in coal with reserves of about 2.4 billion tonnes, said Mr Mkutumula.

The new bridge will be the second over the Zambezi in Tete. The first, the Samora Machel Bridge is currently being rehabilitated. It carries the main road from Malawi to Zimbabwe through Tete city.

The new bridge will divert traffic away from Tete, reducing congestion, pollution and transport costs for goods in and out of the region.

The contract also covers rehabilitating 500 km of road, including from Benga to Moatize, the Zimbabwe-Tete-Malawi highway, and the roads from Cassacatiza (near the Zambian border) to Tete, and from Mussacama to Calomue, which crosses the Angonia plateau to Malawi.

Announcing the award Mr Nkutumula said, "Our country is a corridor to and from landlocked countries for the circulation of people and goods. This project will allow the rapid development of both our country and those of the hinterland."

Soares da Costa and Mota Engil constructed the Armando Emilio Guebuza bridge, part of the country's main north-south corridor. The 2.4 km-long, US$ 113 million bridge is named after past-president Armando Emilio Guebuza bridge. It is one of the longest in Africa and took three years to construct (March 2006 to August 2009).

The government is currently spending huge sums of money upgrading its infrastructure. Last week it announced plans to construct a fourth deep-water port. The new port will be bigger and deeper than the three existing ports of Maputo, Beira and Nacala.

Last year, it said it had secured money to build a new railway linking mines in the north with Nacala by 2015.

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