Bridging old divides in the east

MAPUTO - Mozambique and Tanzania have opened a bridge that will allow the first road traffic between the two countries as part of Maputo's drive to improve its transport infrastructure, state media reported yesterday.

MAPUTO - Mozambique and Tanzania have opened a bridge that will allow the first road traffic between the two countries as part of Maputo's drive to improve its transport infrastructure, state media reported yesterday.

On Wednesday Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete inaugurated the Unity Bridge across the Ruvuma River, which is currently passable only by ferry or canoe.

The two countries each paid half of the R260million to build the 720m long bridge.

"This is a big project. It would be difficult to imagine that two poor countries had the capacity to build such a big enterprise," said Kikwete.

Mozambique's infrastructure was shattered during a civil war that ended in 1992, leaving the country one of the poorest in the continent.

Over the past year it opened a bridge to Malawi and another over the Zambezi River, linking the northern and southern parts of the country for the first time.

Major improvements are still needed - the Mozambican road leading to the new bridge to Tanzania is a dirt trail that floods annually during the rainy season.

"We still have to complete the work begun with the construction of the bridge. We are discussing the rehabilitation of access roads on both sides of the bridge," said Guebuza. - Sapa-AFP

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