afrol News, 8 July - The government of Mozambique has announced it will build a new bridge across the Zambezi River to allow for a giant coal mining project in the interior Tete province.
The announcement was made today, following a decision during a cabinet meeting yesterday. According to the government decree, the "new Tete bridge, between the locality of Benga and the city of Tete" crossing the Zambezi River is to be funded by government and constructions to begin as soon as possible.
The new Zambezi bridge is budgeted to cost US$ 132 million. The Ministry of Public Works already has drafted a contract with the Brazilian-Portuguese consortium Estradas do Zambeze to oversee constructions, which are scheduled to start later this month.
Works are to be finished no later than January 2014, the contract, which is to be signed next week, states.
A new bridge over the Zambezi is utterly needed to develop the poor but highly potential inland province of Tete, squeezed between Malawi and Zimbabwe. The current bridge is in a very poor state, allowing for only one larger vehicle to cross at the time.
Mozambican authorities have great plans for the Tete province. For decades, it has been known that it holds one of the world's greatest untapped coal reservoirs. But while coal mining earlier was impossible due to unrest, it is now hindered by the lack of adequate infrastructure to transport the heavy and voluminous resource to the coast for exports.
Several international mining companies already have announced their interest in the Tete coal reservoirs, some having secured mining rights as soon as the infrastructure has improved. Mapped coal resources amount to 2.4 billion tonnes.
As part of the new bridge construction, also access roads will be strongly improved, the Ministry of Public Works has announced. This would assure the development of Tete province and its natural resources, government holds.
Also, the new bridge and access roads would improve landlocked Malawi's and Zimbabwe's access to export ports at the Mozambican coast. The new road would also go around Tete city, removing yet another traffic bottleneck.
But Mozambican authorities do not want to count on the new road alone for its expected boom in coal exports. Already, the railway is being upgraded to allow for coal transports and the Transport Ministry is considering ways of navigating around the many rapids and waterfalls on Zambezi River - the most cost-efficient way to transport large volumes of coal to the coast.
The new Zambezi bridge and Tete highway are part of a large infrastructure modernisation scheme in the vast country. Also, the road connection to northern Mozambique is now quickly improved to allow for tourism and other development in this remote area.
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