Maputo-Katembe Bridge, Mozambique

Africa’s longest suspension bridge

Mozambique’s national masterplan for expanding its infrastructure includes a connecting road from the capital city of Maputo via Swaziland to South Africa. The most spectacular element of this connection is the Maputo-Katembe Bridge opened in November 2018, which spans across the harbor area and Maputo Bay. This structure is the longest suspension bridge on the African continent. Its northern viaduct was partially constructed from prestressed reinforced-concrete components, whereas its southern counterpart consists entirely of such elements.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) headquartered in Beijing, China, one of the largest construction companies in the world, was commissioned with designing and executing the project. The holistic quality control of all works and verification of the design were contracted to GAUFF GmbH & Co. Engineering KG based in Nuremberg, Germany. This project received worldwide attention because the bridge is a key project that sends a strong signal since it is the first major bridge project completed by a Chinese company outside Asia.

The main bridge crosses the bay at a height of 60 m. Its pylons are 137 m and 138 m high, and the bridge spans over a length of 680 m. Its 1,234 m long southern viaduct was constructed from 30m and 45 m long precast reinforced-concrete components. The major portion of its inclined and curved northern counterpart, however, was built using the cantilever method owing to the harbor area, industrial estates, public thoroughfares, and the complex topography. The northern viaduct extends over a length of 1,097 m and also includes eight bays composed of 30 m long precast reinforced-concrete components.

Construction contractor and consulting engineers

The project was funded by Chinese banks. The Mozambican government established a dedicated client entity, namely the Empresa de Desenvolvimento de Maputo Sul, E.P. (EDMS), which signed the FIDIC-based EPC contract with the CRBC in 2011.

A new aspect for a project of this size is the fact that one of the largest Chinese construction contractors directly cooperated with a German consultant in the field of quality control as well as, to a certain extent, in site supervision and the design verification exercise. All these parts are defined under the heading of quality control and also reflect the two guiding principles of the project: “Quality Matters Most” and “Focus on Safety”. Chinese standards were applied to the static and dynamic analysis of the three bridge portions, which were built using different construction methods. The Mozambican client required a comparison of the structural design with the Eurocode, referred to as verification, which was also compulsory because of the technical rules and standards applicable in the southern African countries.


Quality control

The contract governing quality control by GAUFF Engineering was drafted as an independent service agreement with the involvement of the client. This document defined the comprehensive range of works and services to be performed, which included design verification, suitability tests of different types of concrete in conjunction with materials testing of aggregates, structural surveying, building materials technology, certain portions of site supervision and acceptance, health and safety, public relations, training activities, and preparing a project and site management plan.

GAUFF Engineering also took responsibility for drafting the final report submitted for the entire bridge project as part of the handover to the client. The engineering office also cooperated with EDMS, the client, and the CRBC to develop a Quality Management Plan (QMP) governing all steps of the acceptance procedure ...

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