The longest suspension bridge in Africa just opened – here’s why it’s good news for South Africa

 ·12 Nov 2018

Mozambique has officially opened the Maputo–Katembe bridge – the longest suspension bridge in Africa.

The bridge spans just over three kilometres (3,041 metres) across the Maputo Bay in southern Mozambique and will help connect the Mozambican capital of Maputo on the northern bank with Katembe on the southern bank.

While the bridge is a major accomplishment for development in Southern Africa, the bridge is also expected to have a direct impact on South Africans and Mozambicans travelling between the two countries.

Speaking on the launch of the bridge, KZN’s department of transport said that the road will see the travel time between Maputo to Kosi Bay – KwaZulu-Natal’s east coast border post – drastically reduced from six hours to 90 minutes.

It added that the new bridge will further help boost trade and tourism between South Africa and Mozambique.

Total costs of construction are expected to have reached $726 million (R10.4 billion) of which 85% has reportedly been financed by special loans from China’s Exim Bank.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the bridge on Mozambique’s minister of public works, housing and Water Resources, João Machatine, said that the infrastructure will help catapult the socio-economic development of the province and city of Maputo.

It was officially inaugurated on Saturday (10 November) by the Mozambican president, Filipe Nyusi, coinciding with the 131-year anniversary of Maputo’s elevation to the city category.

South African bridges

The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) recently announced that it would also be building a major bridge on South Africa’s Wild Coast.

The Msikaba Bridge is scheduled to become the second longest span crossing ever constructed on the African Continent, with a tower-to-tower distance of 580 meters.

The new cable-stayed bridge will also become the third highest bridge in Africa with a deck 194 meters high. This drop is exceeded only by the 216 meter high Bloukrans Bridge and the 223 meter high Mtentu Bridge, also located on the new N2 tollway bypass road.

Sanral said that construction is due to start in February 2019 and will last for 33 months, with initial planning proceedings set to begin in October 2018.

Designed by Dissing + Weitling, the concrete structure will have a deck 22.8 meters wide with walkways on both edges and is expected to use some 2,700 tons of structural steel and 2,500 tons of cables.

The Msikaba bridge is the second mega-bridge announced as part of the improvement to the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road, following a tender for the R1.634 billion Mtentu bridge being awarded in 2017.

Construction on the Mtentu bridge began in November 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020/21, with construction lasting for a period of 40 months.

Read: New R1.65 billion mega-bridge to be built in South Africa

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