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Construction of the suspension bridge over the Bay of Maputo, linking the centre of the city to the outlying urban district of Catembe, is now 70 per cent complete, following the installation on Wednesday of the final sections of the bridge deck.
The Minister of Public Works, Carlos Bonete, who witnessed the insertion of the last piece of the deck, told reporters this was a landmark since the northern and southern ends of the bridge are now connected.
Cited in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, Bonete said the next stage is the internal and external soldering of the deck which could take about two months.
But the original plan of delivering the bridge and its access roads by the end of the year is now impossible to fulfil because Maputo City Council has failed to remove an illegal market that is blocking the northern access.
The sellers at the Nwankakana market are refusing to leave without compensation. The Council says they have no right whatever to compensation, but instead it is providing new stalls for them in a municipal market.
The sellers now say it is not the Council but the state company that owns the bridge, Maputo-Sul, which should compensate them. They even claim that Maputo-Sul promised them compensation in 2011.
The Mayor of Maputo, David Simango, asked the sellers to send representatives to meet with him in his office at 18.00 on Tuesday, but they refused to go. They told reporters it must be some kind of trap, because state offices usually close at 15.30. They were apparently unaware that it is quite normal for senior officials, such as Mayors, to hold meetings in the evening.
Maputo-Sul and the urban district councillors gave the sellers an ultimatum to leave the space they are currently occupying by Wednesday. Fearing that the Council would send in bulldozers to remove their informal stalls and shacks under cover of darkness, the sellers spent Wednesday night in the market.
Nothing happened, and now they say they are prepared to spend another night in the market.
Thus a handful of illegal sellers have delayed the conclusion by some months of an investment costing around 700 million dollars, and so far the Council has been too timid to use force against them.
While the access roads are not finished, the bridge cannot be opened, and people who need to cross the bay are forced to continue using the unreliable ferry service between Maputo and Catembe.
Source: AIM / Miramar