Katembe Bridge will connect Maputo city with the new Katembe area, a district that will become home to up to 400,000 people over the coming two to three decades.
According to the last census results recorded by the National Statistics Institute (2007), Maputo city has a population of 1,111,638 inhabitants. This represents growth of 12.5% on figures from the previous census of 1997, or a population growth average of 1.2% per annum in the 10-year period. According to projections, the population of the city at present should stand at around 1,250,000 people, and could double within less than 30 years.
Maputo is a beautiful city surrounded by a large inlet of the Indian Ocean. Citizens of the city can enjoy an attractive coastal view from the balcony of their apartments, but it also means that these same coastal borders limit the growth of the city. Until now, the expansion has been largely disorganized and resulted in the establishment of numerous suburbs that have been developed on the outskirts of the city. New, more structured real estate developments are being built beyond the suburbs, but are limited in terms of connection with other parts of the urban environment. It can take more than an hour for residents to reach the city center, but an innovative method of sustainably and efficiently expanding the city may have just been found.
On the other side of the bay lies the district of Katembe, currently connected by a ferry that can carry less that 15 cars in the approximately 40-minute trip across the water. The other option to reach Katembe district is by driving around the bay for up to two and a half hours along unpaved roads. At the end of 2012, though, the first stone of the Maputo-Katembe bridge was laid by the awarded company, the China Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC). This company is currently building the largest suspension bridge on the African continent and one of the top 50 largest in the world. The project is important in that it will link Maputo with the planned urbanization project of the new Katembe district, allowing the already congested city of Maputo to expand in an organized way and permitting the population of Katembe to connect with the city center within a matter of minutes. Completion of the project is set for 2017, while government and private companies have already been working on the development of the new Katembe. The Masterplan for the Urbanization of the Municipal District of Katembe has already been approved, and combines balanced environmental, social, and economic solutions to divide the territory in 13 units including residential, commercial, industrial, logistical, tourism, and green areas that will be built over three phases. The development at the other side of the bay is also a great opportunity to create infrastructure for a new marina that can improve communications in the bay area. As Tiago Mendonça, Managing Partner at mzBetar Engenheiros e Consultores (BETAR), the company that started the Katembe project with the government about eight years ago told TBY, “If we get the right promoters and economic interest, then a new marina can also be developed in Katembe. This is a city that has a great connection to the sea, however some of the boating facilities we have are not fantastic. Improving the marina facilities would be another attraction, South Africans could then come here with their own boats.”
The road network that will be developed is as important as the bridge and the urban development plans. New modern infrastructure spanning more than 200km in length will link Maputo and Katembe and Boane with Bela Vista, with the road ending at Ponta do Ouro, one of the preferred weekend destinations of residents of Maputo. This route, which takes about four to five hours at present, could be halved once the rest of the infrastructure is in place. In addition, half way between Katembe and Ponta do Ouro, travelers would be able to enjoy the beauty of the Maputo Special Reserve in the district of Matutuíne, a tourist site that will also be developed once all the necessary infrastructure is completed. This new road network will also facilitate the route from Maputo to Durban, improving communications between Mozambique and South Africa.