Cabo Delgado: Helicopter crash had technical causes - police
in file CoM
Just over a year ago, on 10 November 2018, the life of Maputo was changed dramatically by the inauguration of Africa’s longest suspension bridge, spanning the bay of Maputo, and connecting the centre of the city to the outlying district of Katembe.
In addition to the bridge, 187 kilometres of newly paved roads run from Katembe to Ponta de Ouro, on the border with the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal (115 kilometres), Zitundo to Ponta de Ouro (nine kilometres) and from the Matutuine district capital, Bela Vista, to Boane (63 kilometres). The bridge and the roads were paid for with a loan of 785 million US dollars from the Chinese Exim Bank.
But traffic over the bridge has been considerably lower than expected. According to a report in the independent daily “O Pais”, from 10 November 2018 to 1 October this year, 1.1 million vehicles had crossed – which means the target of 1.5 million for the first year of operations will not be met.
“We shall close the year with 73 to 75 per cent of what had been planned”, said Angelo Macuacua, chairperson of Mozambique’s road fund.
This has an impact on the amount raised by the tolls on the bridge. Macuacua put the amount raised in the first year of operation at 217 million meticais (about 3.5 million US dollars). But yearly revenue of 240 million meticais is required to guarantee maintenance of the bridge.
There are two types of maintenance – the day-to-day maintenance, which is covered by the maintenance from the tolls, and the “periodic maintenance” (once every five years), which is not.
“This time, the deficit is not felt”, said Macuacua, “because in the first year, the maintenance is the responsibility of the contractor (the China Roads and Bridges Corporation, CRBC)”.
There have been complaints that the tolls are too high – but Macuacua insists they are much lower than would be necessary to cover all the costs.
Motorbikes and light vehicles pay 160 meticais to cross the bridge. For medium cargo vehicles, with no more than two axles, the toll is 320 meticais. Heavy goods vehicles with three or four axles pay 750 meticais to cross the bridge. The toll for trucks with five or more axles is 1,200 meticais.
For buses and minibuses used for passenger transport, the tolls are reduced by 75 per cent. So the minibuses (known as “chapas”) only pay 40 meticais to cross the bridge, while larger buses pay 80 meticais.
Frequent users of the bridge (such as residents of Katembe who work or study in Maputo) also receive a discount, which can go as high as 75 per cent, depending on how many times they cross the bridge in a month.
Prior to the construction of the bridge, people who wanted to cross the bay had to use an unreliable ferry service. The fares on the ferry were more expensive than the tolls on the bridge.
The mid-2018 charges for using the ferry were 250 meticais for a light vehicle, weighing up to a tonne, on weekdays and 300 meticais at weekends. Cargo and passenger vehicles with a gross weight of up to 3.5 tonnes paid 400 and 450 meticais. Heavier vehicles paid up to 1,100 meticais.
In addition to the cost there was the sheer inconvenience of queuing up to drive onto the ferry.
Prior to the inauguration of the bridge, the ferries were transporting an average of 2,705 people a day between Maputo and Katembe. After the bridge opened to traffic, the number of people taking the ferry collapsed to 192 a day.
The business ceased to be viable, and the last time the ferry service operated was 18 March this year. The company Transmaritima, which owned the ferries, had little option but to rescind the workers’ contracts and pay compensation.
People who once used the ferries now either drive their own cars cross the bridge or use the regular Maputo-Katembe bus service.
The bridge has sharply cut the time taken to drive from Maputo to the South African border, or to the wild life resort of the Maputo Special Reserve, and the beaches of Ponta de Ouro, Ponta Malongane and Pinta Momoli.Source: AIM