First Stone Laid for Construction of New Railway Bridge Over Goba Line

Boane — Mozambican Transport and Communication Minister Carlos Mesquita on Monday laid the first stone in the southern province of Maputo for the construction of a new railway bridge in the Goba Line, over the Umbelúzi River, that will help to ease traffic, particularly between Mozambique and the neighbouring Swaziland.

Budgeted at 500 million meticais (about 15.2 million US dollar at current exchange rate) the new railway bridge is expected to be completed in January 2017.

The Portuguese company Mota-Engil, winner of the public tender, will carry out the construction works of the new bridge that will help to overcome current restrictions imposed on the existing old bridge that opened to the traffic in the 60s.

Years of service and a number of accidents have taken their toll and weakened the structure of the obsolete railway bridge, forcing the authorities to restrict the speed to a maximum of 20 kilometres per hour and 50 trucks per train.

However, when completed the new 360 meter long bridge, made up of reinforced concrete and steel, is expected to improve considerably the speed of the passing trains.

According to Mesquita, with the new bridge traffic volumes on the Goba Line will also increase to reach five million tonnes annually up from the current 2.5 million tonnes. Much of this target will depend on regional markets, most particularly Swaziland that uses this bridge to reach export markets for its sugar.

The bridge is designed to support 27 tonnes per axle up from the current 20, and this will allow movement of higher cargo volumes and trains with a maximum of 100 trucks.

"With the construction of this infrastructure we expect to have created the necessary conditions to increase cargo handled, and avoid natural adversities, most particularly during the rainy season", said Mesquita.

The new bridge, explained the Minister, is in response to calls to increase, modernize and expand the existing railway network across the country to meet the exponential increase in rail freight and reach higher cargo volumes handled in all Mozambican ports.

Mesquita also acknowledged that the construction of public works across the country has faced a number of constraints, such as poor quality of infrastructures, lack of hygiene and safety at work, among other issues.

The government would also like to see the contractor, the project supervisor and other stakeholders to work in strict compliance with the agreed timeline.