By Landeg White

In January 1935, a railway bridge 2.3 miles lengthy used to be opened around the Zambesi delta in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). fifty one years later, it used to be blown up via anti-government forces battling with RENAMO. This booklet, that is in keeping with Portuguese and British information, brings jointly politics, international relations, economics, labour heritage and expertise to teach how this significant engineering feat was once a catastrophe of colonial making plans. this present day, the reduce Zambesi bridge is through some distance the grandest of the ruins of colonial firm littering the large river valley.

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Finally, though the bridge was intended to link Nyasaland and further afield with the port ofBeira, it was to be built in a Portuguese colony. When Berry first arrived for his meeting with the Provincial Governor, bearing his two different letters ofintroduction (How was the occasion stage-managed? ), he found that Governor Alves Ro~adas already knew all about the bridge. His attitude was 'friendly' but he had one absolute requirement. The Zambesi River was an international waterway and the bridge must not present any obstacle to navigation.

6500 per mile at 6 per cent, much of the interest remaining unpaid. Meanwhile, another railway - a proper one with a 3 ft 6 in gauge - was advancing fast from the Cape towards Bulawayo, giving the two Rhodesias an alternative route to the sea. (62500 in 5-shilling shares and the contract to build 35 miles of 2 ft gauge railway, a bridge over the Pungue River and a pier at Beira. The terms were the same as for the earlier line, namely 3 per cent transit duties and grants ofblocks ofland offive square kilometres.

Instead, in September 1891, the company signed a contract with Mr Henry Theodore Van Laun ofLondon. 8 In return for forming a railway company to be capitalised at [600000, with the right to raise a further [1500000 in debentures, Van Laun was ceded the right to build the railway including stations, docks and quays, the right to sufficient but unspecified blocks ofland, each 5 square kilometres in area though they were not to be adjacent, and the right to levy transit duties of3 per cent to offset the interest on the debentures.

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