Mozambique 2016 | TRANSPORT | FOCUS: RING ROAD

At 60km in length, with seven bridges and three junctions, the new Maputo ring road promises to transform the urban environment.

As Margaret Thatcher said, “You and I come by road or rail, but economists travel by infrastructure." For years, Africa has focused on building as many roads, rails, and airports as possible but, but there are still considerable gaps in the infrastructure of the continent. According to the IMF's publication “Mozambique Rising" (2014), only 20% of Mozambique's roads are paved. The rural areas are where unpaved roads are more common, and reasons given for this range from their distance from the centers of power in the country to the widely dispersed national population and a general lack of funding for the maintenance of such networks. Metropolitan areas are normally much luckier in this regard, but urban structuring is not a straightforward process, especially in a context of rapid urbanization. Often, African countries use western urban planning development models, but this approach may not always be appropriate for rapidly expanding cities such as Maputo.

Domingos Augusto Macucule states in his paper “Metropolization and Urban Restructuring, the Territory of Greater Maputo," that “the complexity (speed and unpredictability) of socio-spatial dynamics require from urban policies a more focused action than ever for the processes that coordinate these dynamics than the urban forms that result, through a project of urban restructuring that can anticipate more than monitor the effects." This anticipation that Domingos talks about is extremely important to control informal settlements and not only alleviate the detrimental effects of metropolization, but even to capitalize on their opportunities.

One of the most significant urban projects recently developed in Maputo to relieve congestion and alleviate the detrimental effects of metropolization is this ring road. This project was awarded by Empresa de Desenvolvimento de Maputo Sul, E.P. (Maputo Development Company) to the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), who started construction in 2012. The total cost of the project is $315.10 million, and 95% of this has been financed by Exim Bank of China and 5% by the government of Mozambique. The projects include six sections of road of a total length of 60km, with seven bridges and three junctions.

The first section corresponds to the 6.3km of Marginal Avenue, from the Radisson Hotel to Costa do Sol. This section has already been opened to traffic and only the landscape features are left to be completed. The second section goes from Costa do Sol to Marracuene for 19.7km, with part of this section already open to traffic. The final delivery date is set for October 2016. Around 99% of the third section has been completed as well. This section runs for 10.5km from Chiango to the Zimpeto National Stadium. The fourth section from Zimpeto to Marracuene runs for 15.5 kilometers and, even though it is nearly finished, it is supposed to be completed by October 2016. The fifth section from Zimpeto to Tchumeni connects the city with Matola, the largest suburb of Maputo with an estimated population of nearly 900,000 people, according to the National Statistics Institute. Around 75% of the works in this section have been completed. The sixth section corresponds to the 5.4km that go from Machava junction to the 16th of June square.

The bridges aspect of this project is already well advanced, with the bridge at Costa do Sol already open to traffic and Hipódromo 100% complete. The aqueduct over the Malauzi river has been already finished as well and the only ones that still have some work to be done are the Matola Gare railway bridge and the Macaneta bridge. Around 40% of the works in the first one have been completed while the bridge at Macaneta, one of the favorite weekend beach destinations of the Maputo population is at 60% completion.

The junctions of Zimpeto and Marracuene are 99% finished, and only some drainage works and expansion joints remain. On the other side, Tchumene junction has not been started yet because it is pending approval of the design engineering from the Trans African Concessions (TRAC). Finally, Maputo will have a network that will not only help decongest the city but will support the effective organization of the city and motivate the urbanization of the city's periphery.