'Unity Bridge' to link Mozambique and Tanzania

Work on the first bridge to span the Ruvuma River between Mozambique and Tanzania, will begin on October 16, Mozambique’s Public Works Minister Felicio Zacarias said on Friday.

The long-awaited bridge will help spark economic growth and develop tourism in the region once it is completed in about 30 months, he told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Mozambique and Tanzania will split the $24-million price tag for the project, which also involves the construction of a highway, since no aid partners were interested in financing the project, the minister added.

A “Unity Bridge” across the river was proposed as early as 1975, shortly after Mozambique gained independence from Portugal but the project did not go ahead due to a lack of funds.

In 2002 the two nations made a formal agreement to build a 600m bridge across the river and last January a Chinese company won an international tender to execute the project.

Environmentalists have opposed the planned bridge and highway, saying it would destroy Mozambique’s northern Niassa National Reserve, the country’s largest conservation area.

The reserve is about the size of Denmark and is home to elephant, buffalo, sable and roan herds. - Sapa-AFP