Cunene River Bridge, Angola

The longest bridge in Angola

The new Cunene Bridge is currently the longest bridge in Angola, and lies on the major arterial road linking the main cities of Lubango and Ondjiva in south-western Angola. It replaces a host of temporary structures used to span the Cunene River after the original permanent structure was destroyed early in the Angolan conflict. Aurecon provided the design and preparation of bid documents, as well as site supervision, in joint venture, for the new bridge.

The bridge is 900 m long, with additional approaches and drainage structures spanning the Cunene River. Aurecon’s expert project planning resulted in the successful delivery of the bridge despite the project presenting a number of logistical and natural challenges. These included the presence of landmines, floods, the width of the river, shortage of skilled labour, difficulty acquiring building materials due to the distance from commercial centres, lack of good aggregates, long supply lead times, challenging importation procedures and border delays.

The bridge’s deck type comprises dual steel box girders with an in-situ infill concrete slab. The fabrication of 142 box girder sections in Qing Huang Dao, China, was completed concurrently with the construction of 1,384 precast concrete deck slabs on site in Angola. The box girders were shipped to Namibe Port in Angola and transported 600 km by road to the Cunene River construction site. The selected deck type proved to be appropriate for this bridge crossing, despite major logistical constraints.

Before the bridge sections could be launched, reinforced substructures consisting of 16 piers and the 2 abutments, founded on piles, had to be constructed. An assembly and welding yard was established at one end of the bridge where girders were welded together two at a time and then incrementally launched using hydraulic jacks.

The new bridge stands proud in the mighty Cunene River, both serving its commercial purpose and functioning as a source of pride and achievement for Angolan nationals in this region. 

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