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    13 May, 2010
Bridge over Rovuma strengthens brotherhood
Negomano (Mozambique), 13 May (AIM) - "The bridge of the dreams of those who imagined our future is here!", declared Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Wednesday, as he and his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete, inaugurated the "Unity Bridge" over the Rovuma river, providing the first ever road link between the two countries.

The bridge had first been proposed by the founding Presidents of Mozambique, Samora Machel, and of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, shortly after Mozambican independence. But the war of destabilisation waged against Mozambique by the apartheid regime, and the refusal of donors to fund the bridge, meant that work did not start until 2005.

The 720 metre long bridge links Negomano in Mozambique to Mtambatswala in Tanzania. But both Presidents admitted during the inauguration ceremony that much remains to be done, since decent access roads to the bridge must be built.

"We are aware that we still have to complete the work that we have started with the bridge", said President Guebuza. "We are speaking of rehabilitating the access roads to the bridge on both sides. With the same commitment with which we built the bridge, we are sure that those improved roads, from Negomano to Mueda, in Mozambique, and from Mtambatswala and Nangomba, in Tanzania, will soon become a reality".

The users of the 175 kilometre Negoma-Mueda road are particularly concerned because of its poor condition, which renders it nearly impassable during the rainy season.

In his speech, President Guebuza also reiterated that the bridge expresses the dream of Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere of consolidating the relations of friendship and prosperity between the two peoples. Relations between the two countries, he recalled, date back to the struggle for the independence of Mozambique, when citizens from both countries shed their blood to liberate Mozambique from Portuguese colonial rule.

Later, President Guebuza continued, Tanzania and Mozambique joined forces again in 1978 against Ugandan dictator Idi Amin when he tried to annex the Tanzanian region of Kaguera.

They also stood side by side in 1986, when a contingent of Tanzanian troops was stationed in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, during the war against apartheid destabilisation and the attempts of the South African military and their surrogates to split the country in two along the line of the Zambezi.

For his part, President Kikwete remarked that anyone who has the opportunity to visit the bridge will hardly believe that it was built by two poor countries.

"This is a major project, and it would be difficult to imagine that two poor countries could have the capacity to carry out such a large undertaking", he said.

Kikwete stressed that this bridge represents a starting point for the development of the two countries, improving the lives of the two peoples. "Within six months we will see a difference", he said, claiming that "the bridge will stimulate economic activities in the region and, consequently, improve people's living standards".

He also took the opportunity to urge people to defend the bridge against vandalism. "Take care of the bridge. If it is destroyed we will go back to traveling in canoes", he warned.

An Immigration and Customs post have already been installed in Negomano to control trade between the two countries.
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