Mozambican and Tanzanian presidents lay first stones of bridge linking the two neighbors

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza and Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on Sunday laid the foundation stone for a bridge linking the two neighbors, a dream of both countries' independence leaders.

Mozambican Foreign Minister Alcinda Abreu and Tanzanian Home Affairs Minister Omari Mapuri signed an agreement on Saturday to waive visa requirements for their citizens traveling to either country, said Peter Kalaghe, a Mkapa aide.

The agreement will allow more Mozambicans and Tanzanians to move between the two countries when the "Unity Bridge" is completed in three years, Kalaghe said from the Tanzanian coastal town of Mtwara, where Guebuza and Mkapa are meeting.

The two presidents placed the first stones of the "Unity Bridge" at the border towns of Mtambaswala on the Tanzanian side and Negomane on the Mozambican side, said Kalaghe.

It is budgeted at US$33 million (Ђ27.5 million). The bridge will be 600 meters (2,000 feet) long, 10 meters (33 feet) wide, and with a height of up to 10 meters (33 feet).

The project to build the "Unity Bridge" across the Rovuma River was a dream of the two men who led their nations to independence _ the late Presidents Samora Machel of Mozambique and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania.

Plans for the bridge spent 30 years on the drawing board, however, because no funding agencies would finance the project. In 2002, the two governments decided to build the bridge by funding its construction from their national budgets, AP reports..


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