The arteries of Tete
The arteries of Tete
Snaking like a python stretched over 2,574km, the Zambezi makes a busy river like the Thames (346km) resemble a grass snake. However, our powerful river is short on bridges – a mere 8 compared to the Thames’s 33 bridges.
The Zambezi flows through 6 countries, with Mozambique having the lion’s share of the bridges inside its borders: the Armando Guebuza Bridge at Caia in Sofala, Dona Ana Bridge at Mutarara, Tete Province,and two bridges in Tetecityitself– Samora Machel and the new bridge under construction at Benga.
The Dona Ana Bridge linking Senaand was built in 1935 as a railroad bridge. It is the longest bridge to cross the Zambezi, measuring 3.67km. Dona Ana’s chequered history has seen it change from rail to road and then back to a rail only bridge, its primary function being to link Malawi and the coalfields of Moatize in Mozambique to the port at Beira.
Opened in 2009, the Armando Guebuza Bridge at Caia is for the moment the newest bridge on the Zambezi, connecting the provinces of Sofala and Zambezia. This bridge plays a vital role on the important EN1 route linking north and south Mozambique and its length of 2.37km puts it just behind Dona Ana for size. Both Dona Ana and Armando Guebuza are mentioned on a list of the world’s longest bridges.
Tete was a Swahili trading post long before the Portuguese established a town there in 1531,but it was only in the 1970s with the construction of Cahora Bassa dam that a bridge was built, necessary for transporting the enormous cargo of machinery required for the dam’s construction.
Initially named the Marcelo Caetano Bridge when it was completed in1973, today the attractive 1km long Samora Machel suspension bridge is busy night and day. Regional development has placed a strain on the river crossing infrastructure, so in 2010the Mozambique government announced the construction of a second bridge in Tete at Benga, 6km downstream of the existing one. Scheduled for completion in September 2014, the new bridge will go a long way towards alleviating the traffic snarled on Samora Machel Bridge.
Bridges constitute a substantial capital and infrastructure commitment, so it is with some pride that the residents and business people of Tete can look to their two bridges, confident that Tete’s significance on the north/south corridor route is assured.
Fact File – Samora Machel Bridge
Opened: 20 July 1972
Designed by: Edgar Cardoso
Built by: Empreteiros de Mozambique SARL (ERMOQUE)
Fun Fact: Heavy trucks require a police escort to cross, but the walkways are jam-packed with bicycles, pedestrians - even goats crossing!
Fact File – Dona Ana Bridge
Opened: 14 January 1935
Length: 3.67 kilometres
Built by: Built by the Portuguese colonial administration
Fun Fact: For an adrenalin rush, take a bicycle taxi across the bridge and walk back. Watch your footing–a misstep could see you thigh-high in bridge! This bridge is only used for rail traffic.
Fact File – Armando Guebuza Bridge
Opened: 1 August 2009
Length: 2.38 km
Designed & built by: A consortium consisting of Mota-Engil, Soaresda Costa& Infra Engineering Mozambique
Fun Fact: An abutment, remnant of an earlier bridge building attempt, remains on the south side just before the toll gate. Climb the steps to the deck for a fantastic view of the river and bridge.
Fact File – Benga Bridge
Opened: In progress, scheduled for completion September 2014
Designed & built by: a consortium consisting ofMota-Engil, Soaresda Costa&Opway
Fun Fact: Look out for family pods of hippos and some seriously large crocodiles in the river just below the bridge.
Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Cahora Bassa & Tete
Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 14, Sept 2013)