Mozambique and Tanzania opened a bridge that will allow the first road traffic between the countries, part of Maputo’s drive to improve transport nationally, state media said on Thursday. Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete, on Wednesday inaugurated the Unity Bridge across the Ruvuma River, which currently is passable only by ferry or canoe.

The two countries each paid half of the $35-million to build the 720m bridge.

“This is a big project. It would be difficult to imagine that two poor countries had the capacity to build such a big enterprise,” said Kikwete.

Mozambique’s infrastructure was shattered during decades of civil war that ended in 1992 and left the country one of the poorest on the planet.

Over the last year it opened a new bridge to Malawi and another over the Zambezi River, linking the northern and southern parts of the country for the first time.

Major improvements are still needed—the Mozambican road leading to the new bridge to Tanzania is a dirt trail that floods annually during the rainy season.

“We are aware that we still have to complete the work begun with the construction of the bridge. We are discussing the rehabilitation of access roads on both sides of the bridge,” said Guebuza.

Tenders worth $507-million, funded by a US aid scheme, will be launched later this year to upgrade 500km of Mozambique’s major north-south highway.—Sapa-AFP