Mozambique: Audit reveals reservations about Bank of Mozambique's 2019 accounts
The passage of Storm Ana through the northern and central provinces of Mozambique damaged much public and private infrastructure, conspicuously with the destruction of the bridges over the Rovubwe and Licungo rivers in Tete and Zambézia provinces, respectively. Many have questioned the initial quality of the works.
The bridge over the Rovubwe River, for example, underwent rehabilitation from 2019 to 2020, after having suffered from the Cyclone Idai floods in 2019. This rehabilitation cost the state around €3.2 million. But after only a year, the bridge proved incapable of resisting similar conditions.
In March, 2020, National Roads Administration (ANE) representative Jeremias Mazoio said in an interview with DW Africa that the bridge’s rehabilitation was designed to ensure its resilience to natural phenomena. “Which means that, if we have water currents of the same magnitude again, they will not damage the infrastructure,” he said at the time.
How much money was spent on the bridge?
But this Thursday (27-01), the Mozambican minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources, João Machatine, said publicly that, in fact, “the only structural intervention carried out on the bridge was the repair of the support elements that were damaged [in the 2019 floods]. So there was no structural intervention from the point of view of pillars, beams and the deck itself”.
Asked by the Mozambican press about the amount spent on the rehabilitation, Machatine explained: “This amount, in fact, was for engineering work, because we had to lift the trays using jacks and a lot of skill, so as not to damage the existing infrastructure.”
In addition to the bridge over the Rovubwe, the floods also cut off traffic on the bridge over the Licungo River, in Zambézia province, which was opened in December, 2021.
The two-kilometre structure was built by the Chinese company CRBC at a cost to the Mozambican state of 915 million meticais (about €12 million).
Minister responds to criticism
Minister Machatine, who inaugurated the bridge, denies that its partial collapse was due to poor quality. “We designed this infrastructure in a hybrid way. It has the bridge part and the embankments and ramps. The embankments would serve to safeguard the structural integrity of the bridge,” the minister explained.
“I say this with great satisfaction: what we designed to make this infrastructure resilient worked excellently. What gave way were the embankments,” he added.
Regarding the Licungo bridge, Minister Machatine said that the work guarantee contract was for four years, and the contractor would therefore repair the infrastructure in the next few days.
But in the case of Revubwe infrastructure, the government absolves contractor Mota-Engil of any responsibility. “The contractor is liable to make good damages caused by poor execution, but here we are talking about force majeure,” Machatine says.
The reopening of the Revubwe crossing would at first be via metal bridges, the minister said, but this may still take some time.
“Minister should resign”
Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) deputy Ivone Soares said in an interview with STV, a partner of DW Africa, that the minister of Public Works should resign.
“Because, in moral terms, he is responsible for these tragedies, since it is the ministry that he directs that is in charge of these works,” argues the deputy from Mozambique’s largest opposition party.
Ivone Soares went on to propose the creation of an independent commission to assess what aspects of the infrastructure had failed.