Unity Bridge to boost Dar, Maputo business
Faustine Kapama
Daily News; Thursday,September 11, 2008 @20:00
TANROADS officials inspect the Unity Bridge at the Tanzania/Mozombique border. Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Infrastructure Development Omari Chambo (not in picture) and Tanroads officials visited the construction site recently.
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  • The construction of the Unity Bridge linking Tanzania and Mozambique across Ruvuma River is progressing well. AN old adage that says "Where there is a will there is a way," is evident in the progress which has been made on the Unity bridge that links Tanzania and Mozambique. It is encouraging to note that something which appeared to be impossible some years ago has now become a reality.

    The construction of the Unity Bridge was proposed in 1975.The proposal to construct the Unity Bridge was floated after Mozambique's independence in 1975. It was made by founding Presidents of the two countries -- Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel.

    Design studies for implementation of the project were completed in early 1980s.The construction, however, could not start due to lack of funds. Finally, both governments expressed commitments to ensure they provide funds for construction of the Unity Bridge.

    In 2002 both Tanzania and Mozambique governments made a formal agreement to build the bridge across Ruvuma river. First foundation stones where laid both on Tanzanian and Mozambique sides on October 10, 2005.

    Aconstruction firm --Norconsult -- was, on the same year, awarded contract for preliminary design and construction supervision of the bridge. The agreement to build the bridge was signed by former presidents of the two countries Benjamin Mkapa and Joachim Chissano.

    The actual construction of the bridge started on November 10, 2005. It is 720- metre long and 13.5 metre width, dual carriageway of 3.25 metres and shoulder of 1.5 metre long and foot walk of 1.5 meter. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Mr Omari Chambo, visited the site to get first hand information on progress made so far.

    Mr Chambo who was on inspection tour of construction progress of the roads in southern part of Tanzania, was joined by his counterpart from Mozambique at the site,Ms Maria Louisa Mathe who is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

    Mr Erkel, the project resident engineer of the Unity Bridge told the Permanent Secretaries that the construction work has been completed by 68 per cent. He says 19 piers of the tensioned concrete box Girder Bridge and first span of the super structure have already been constructed.

    He says the construction of engineer's camp on the Tanzanian side has been completed while that of Mozambique was nearing completion. The construction of a five-kilometre road on both sites was progressing well.

    Mr Erkel says both common fill and improved sub grade layer were nearing completion while pavement layers have been completed by 50 per cent and all the boxes and pipe culverts have been completed. The progress on the construction of the 26.8 million US Dollars (32bn/-) was termed as satisfactory .

    Mr Chambo, however, directed the contractor, China Geo-Engineering Corporation, to speed up the construction of the 13.5-metre width Bridge and observe the construction standards considering the seriousness of the project.

    On her part, Ms Mathe said Mozambique would make sure the construction is not delayed any more. Implementation of the project was delayed on technical reasons including changes of super structure design.

    Mr Mussa Mataka, the Mtwara TanRoads regional manager, informed the permanent secretaries that construction of the highly awaited bridge by the two countries was expected to be completed in September 2009.

    Unity Bridge is part of the Mtwara Development Corridor (MDC), a multimillion-dollar project to build highways, railways and expand ports to facilitate access to the Indian Ocean for southern Tanzania and Northern Malawi regions.

    Other areas that would benefit from the project are Eastern part of Zambia and Northern Mozambique, regions whose abundant natural resources are yet to be fully exploited and whose populations are categorised as among the poorest in the world. Under the project, the Mtwara port will be the principal sea gateway for exports.

    Resources such as coal, natural gas and oil will be used to develop the MDC-Zone in terms of electrification, industrialisation, job creation and generation and distribution of wealth.

    Other related projects for the MDC Zone include the Mchuchuma Coal-to-Electricity Project, the Mtwara port expansion and modernisation, the Mtwara-Mbamba Bay road, the Mbamba Bay port development, a heavy-capacity ferry link between Nkhata Bay and Mbamba Bay and the Selous-Niassa Transfrontier Conservation Area.

    The project would boost development in Mtwara Region (Tanzania), Cabo Delgado (Mozambique) as well as in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region as it is an important component of the Mtwara Development Corridor.

    It will also shorten the distance along the Cape to Cairo road. The bridge across Ruvuma river is positioned 70 kilometres from the headquarters of Nanyumbu District, Mtwara Region and 180 km from the headquarters of Mueda District, on Mozambique side.

    The Unity Bridge connects Southern part of Tanzania through Mtambaswala Village Nanyumbu District in Mtwara Region and Northern part of Mozambique through Negonane Village, Mueda District in Cabo Delgado Province.

    Some residents living near the bridge say they are happy with the progress that has been reached at the moment as far as construction is concerned. They said completion of construction of the bridge would enhance trade business between the two sides.

    Khalfan Omari, Ina Kaiyo and Augustino Zawadi, all residents at Negonane Village in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique say they have been facing difficulties to cross the river using canoes or swimming.

    "Several people have lost their lives when attempting to cross the river using these methods. Salvation is now coming. We will conduct our businesses smoothly with our neighbours from the Tanzanian side by crossing the river through the bridge," Mr Omar, a father of three, says.

    Their counterparts from Mtambaswala Village on the Tanzanian side express similar feelings, saying their neighbourhood would be enhanced as they would be easily crossing from one side to another upon completion of the Unity Bridge

    Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
    Procurement Consultant
    Gsm: +250-08470205
    Home: +250-55104140
    P.O. Box 3867
    East Africa
    Blog: http://www.cepgl.blogspot.com
    Skype ID : Kayisa66

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