Dona Ana Steel Bridge (between Sena and Mutarara)

Dona Ana Steel Bridge (between Sena and Mutarara)

Sena [São Marçal de], Sofala, Mozambique

Equipment and Infrastructures

The railway bridge of Dona Ana – it takes its name after a famous Dona Ana Cativa, lessee of the great Prazo de Mutarara, which stretched along the banks of the Zambezi, Ziuziu and, very likely, of the Chire – was opened to traffic on the 14th January 1935. Its 3,677 metres long, distributed over 33 main arches (triangulated metal arches, resting on solid pillars), with a length of 80 metres each which made it at the time the longest railway bridge in Africa and third on a global scale. It is still one of the most valuable pieces of the Mozambican industrial archaeological heritage. Its existence is connected to the railway line that linked Mozambique to Nyasaland (present day Republic of Malawi), which was inaugurated on the 1st July 1922, on the initiative of the Trans-Zambezia Railway. Until the construction of the bridge, the passage of the Zambezi River, between Sena and Dona Ana, was made using the old paddle wheel boats that operated on that river. The bridge began to be planned in June 1922, and the civil engineering company Liversey Son & Henderson sent to Mozambique Seager Berry, famous for the works undertaken in the Port of Buenos Aires. Located on a sandbank near Mutarara, he devoted himself around four months to the survey of the river, and chose a place near Sena, in the village of Dona Ana. The development of railway traffic and the difficulties of transhipment led to the consideration of the absolute need to build the bridge there. In 1930, the recently-formed Nyasaland Railway Ltd. decided to establish a direct connection between the lines of the Central Africa Railway Co. Ltd and those of the Trans-Zambezia, thus ensuring a continuous rail connection between Nyasaland and Beira. Construction begins on the Sena side in January 1932. It was planned by G. A. Hobson and built by company Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd., of Darlington (England). The construction work was very difficult, due to the absence of rock in the riverbed (of the 34 main pillars only two are carved directly on the rock on the left bank), and it involved the recruitment of 6,000 workers. During the 1960s, the local population asked for the creation of a roadway on the bridge to avoid onerous and long crossings of cars on wagons. Nonetheless, the inauguration of the roadway bridge (Marcelo Caetano/Samora Machel bridge) connecting the city of Tete to Matundo on the 20th July 1972, put an end to these requests. After independence, and during the civil war, it would be converted into a road bridge, a situation that lasted until September 2008 when works were undertaken to enable it to resume the initial function, in the framework of the rehabilitation of the Line of Sena.

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