The 950-metre, cable-stayed bridge inaugurated by King Mohammed VI in Rabat is going to have a major effect economically and environmentally on Morocco, business owners and residents said.
The Mohammed VI Bridge, which connects Rabat with Sale, is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa. It has six traffic lanes, two 200-metre towers and 160 cables. It was constructed by the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group at a cost of $32.45 million, funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Morocco’s Autoroutes du Maroc (ADM).
The bridge is also an important part of the new 42km bypass and will serve the city of Tamesna, which has been poorly connected to road networks.
Mustapha Asli, director-general of Transport Asli, said that his and other transport companies would greatly benefit from the bridge.
“The bridge will save us at least 30% of the time that trucks usually spend on the old road that links Rabat with Sale due to the numerous traffic lights, which slow down the traffic flow,” he said.
“We will also save on fuel costs with a smoother traffic and hence less pollution and fewer accidents.”
Rabat resident Anouar Samir said he noticed less congestion around Hay Riyad neighbourhood during peak hours after the opening of the bridge.
“It’s a great news for Rabat, which is going to see a dramatic change in traffic” in some areas, Samir said.
ADM predicts daily traffic of 50,000 vehicles at the bypass.
The bridge, which spans the Bou Regreg river, will be illuminated at night with a lighting system able to display 16 million colours. The use of light-emitting diode (LED) technology is expected to make the lighting 75% more energy efficient than with conventional bulbs.
“I have never seen a bridge like this in my entire life. The lighting is simply breathtaking,” said Casablanca resident Ahmed Ait Lahcen, who stopped at the edge of the bridge to take a selfie.
Construction of the bridge, which took five years, had to overcome many hurdles, said Minister of Equipment, Transport and Logistics Aziz Rabbah.
Among them were landowners’ legal complaints and technical difficulties of diverting water pipes and electricity cables
The bypass is part of Morocco’s road plan 2035, which aims to build new roads and improve current ones in the next 25 years, with isolated rural areas among the biggest beneficiaries.
Minister of Economy and Finance Mohamed Boussaid said Morocco’s equipment and infrastructure “are an essential lever for the competitiveness of the national economy.
“Road infrastructure also helps to boost the economy and lure more foreign investments,” he said.