Marcelo Caetano Bridge (Present day Samora Machel)

Marcelo Caetano Bridge (Present day Samora Machel)

Tete, Tete, Mozambique

Equipment and Infrastructures

The construction of the Marcelo Caetano Bridge (after independence it became known as Samora Machel) was included in the works essential for the start of the construction of the Cahora-Bassa Dam. It was also included in the most important road axis in eastern Africa, which, starting in Cape Town, in the Republic of South Africa, crosses Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe), Mozambique (in the province of Tete, between Zóbué and Changara), goes across Malawi, Zambia, and goes beyond Kenya. In Mozambique, it also served regions with high potential in the sectors of agriculture, cattle breeding and mining and enabled the quick and cheap outflow of the products of the very rich lands northward of the Zambezi, such as Angonia, Macanga, Maravia and Zumbo. Construction began in March 1968 and the work was entrusted to the company Empreiteiros de Moçambique SARL (ERMOQUE); the inspection and control of the works was executed by the Junta Autónoma de Estradas de Moçambique (Autonomous Road Office Mozambique). A detailed description presents this metal and suspended large-sized structure (conceived by engineer Edgar Cardoso) as follows: “The bridge across the Zambezi River, with a total of 762 metres long stretches along five partial spans (three central ones of 180 metres each and two extremities of 90 metres each). It is a pre-stressed sus- pended bridge with funicular cables, without stiff beams and with pre-stressed stiff cables forming triangles with the oblique suspension cables, thus forming a perfectly stable ensemble. The roadway corresponds to 7.20 metres and has two walks with 2 metres each, with a deck extending 11.20 metres. The bridge is composed of two funicular cables that join the abutments and cross the tops of four towers. These cables support the deck through the oblique suspenders, connected below and longitudinally to two stiff cables. Each funicular cable is composed of seven basic cables of 140 wires of highly resistant galvanized steel; the stiff cables consist of 146 steel wires, similar to the other cables; and the oblique suspenders, which support the backed beams of the deck through girders of pre-stressed reinforced concrete, consist of 60 wires in the same material. All of these steel wires have a diameter of five milimetres. The deck is longitudinally formed by simply backed truss spans, composed of nine wide girders in pre-stressed concrete, linked by the stone slab and by four crossbeams in reinforced concrete. The four towers, in reinforced concrete, are formed by two columns that slightly converge into the crown. The columns are braced and the connection between them is ensured at the level of the devices of passage of the funicular cables, by a beam, being all of these pieces in reinforced concrete. Each tower rests on a footing which, in turn, heads two cylindrical wells in reinforced concrete with 6 metres in diameter, reaching the deepest shafts at about 22 metres. The abutments are hollow, in reinforced concrete, with two pre-stressed pieces for the joint of cables, which serve as braces of those joints. They also rest upon large footings encasing them directly in the rocky lands of the banks” (A Tribuna, Lourenço Marques, 29.09.1972, p. 4). It would be inaugurated on the 20th July 1972, putting an end to the passage of barges between that city and Matundo, which dated back to the 1920s.

António Sopa