The President of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, inaugurated today the Maputo-Katembe Bridge, the first one on the bay of the Mozambican capital.
The Head of State unveiled the headstone and cut the allusive strip at 08:20 am (local time) in the north access (in Maputo) of what becomes the largest suspension bridge in Africa and which is Mozambique's most expensive public work after the independence.
Side by side with Armando Guebuza, Mozambique's previous president, the Head of State heard technical explanations about the work and then, he was the first to cross the road to the south bank of Katembe.
The bridge was financed and built by China, a "turnkey" venture that started four years ago, with a base value of $ 785 million, which Mozambique starts paying for in 2019 - and which included the construction of 200 kilometers of roads such as the circular route to the capital and the connection to Ponta do Ouro, near the border with South Africa (with five other smaller bridges).
The Maputo-Katembe bridge has a 700-meter suspended platform and two ramps with a little more than 1 kilometer each, crossing the bay at a height of 60 meters above the water - enough for the cargo ships that go through the port of Maputo to pass below.
The date chosen for the inauguration coincides with Maputo's municipal holiday.
The opening to traffic signifies one of the greatest changes ever in the coexistence between the two banks of the bay, with the densely populated capital on one side and Katembe village, disperse and with few buildings, on the other.
Anyone who wished to pass from one side to the other (a little more than a kilometer, on a boat trip that takes 10 minutes) had to resort to a degraded ferryboat, which forced people to wait on long queues, sometimes for hours, while they waited to be able to cross with a car or to travel in small passenger boats.
The vessels should continue to have customers, because to cross the new bridge they will need to pay tolls.
The toll of the Maputo-Katembe bridge for most light vehicles (class 1) will cost 160 meticais (€ 2.30), a significant value for most Mozambicans, but public transport vans (called "chapas"), buses and tractors will get a 75% discount and pay 40 meticais (about 0.60 euro).
The capital's connection to the tourist area of Ponta do Ouro and its border with South Africa, about 100 kilometers from Maputo, will be shortened by a paved road.
The trip should take less than two hours - about half of the time needed so far, going around the bay.