A vision dating back into the mid-1970s by the then presidents of Tanzania and Mozambique, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel, respectively, has at last come to its fulfilment, when a week ago a key bridge was officially opened by the current presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Armando Guebuza.
It is thought, the new road link across the river Ruvuma will improve trade relations between the two neighboring countries and also facilitate easier movement of business and tourism visitors in an area where such infrastructure has long been lacking. According to information sent to this correspondent by sources in Dar es Salaam, the bridge cost Tanzania nearly US$30 million to build and spans over 700 meters across the river. Previously, crossings had to be done by boats and canoes, and where available, ferries.
However, government opponents were swift to point out in separate messages to this correspondent, which the project, besides the opening fanfare was far from complete, as access roads were “in a pathetic state” and immigration and security installations not ready for use.
In response to an inquiry, a governmental source from Dar es Salaam was quick to point out that link roads to the new bridge and related added infrastructure was already included in the next budget, which is due to be presented soon, dismissing opposition claims that the bridge was a “white elephant.”
The source said, on condition of anonymity: “This road and bridge link[s] us to our neighbors, Mozambique. Our founding father, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and the founder president of modern Mozambique, Samora Machel, have so long ago dreamed about closer links between our countries. Now it is reality at last, and both sides have spent much money to achieve this. Why would opponents now rubbish our work and efforts? Extra roads will come, others to the bridge will be renovated; it is a small issue when considering that the big issue, the bridge itself, is now complete. We expect many overland tourists to come this way to visit us or go to Mozambique. Tourism there is only starting now, so we will benefit from the road and bridge link. For myself, I am proud of this achievement, and those who are not are simply not patriotic – please write this!”
Undoubtedly here, as in many other cases, time will tell just how successful the road/bridge link between Tanzania and Mozambique will be.