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Cablegate: The Road to Benguela

VZCZCXRO7200
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #1069 2961613
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231613Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4380
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0105
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0008

UNCLAS LUANDA 001069

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR AF/S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELTN ECON EFIN AO CH
SUBJECT: THE ROAD TO BENGUELA

REF: LUANDA 1015

1. (U) Summary. The road connecting Luanda with
Benguela-Lobito, a priority infrastructure project for the
GRA, appears near completion, but the road has not been
rebuilt, only resurfaced. End Summary.

New-Old Road
------------

2. (U) Most of the two-lane coastal highway from Luanda to
Benguela has been resurfaced, Econoff observed on late
September road trips between Luanda and Benguela. However,
the work appears limited to resurfacing the existing road and
leaving the road bed as 30 years of neglect have left it.
Work has proceeded in sections, so the road repeatedly
changed back and forth from new to old pavement. Econoff and
visiting analysts observed work in progress on Sunday,
September 23 along three sections of road. The road crews
had neither graders to prepare the road bed nor rollers to
smooth the final surface: this appeared to be only
resurfacing work.

3. (U) New bridges under construction were a welcome
exception to the usual standard for construction along this
highway. Several war-shattered spans lay in their stream
beds, and had been replaced years ago by narrow steel spans.
Completely new roadbeds straightening out the existing sharp
curves distinguish these wide new concrete bridges. (Note:
Along the main road, a smooth surface over uneven pavement
plus sharp curves made the ride more exciting than
comfortable. End note.)

Hope for Durability
-------------------

4. (U) An Embassy maintenance supervisor with African
road-building experience said that the African standard calls
for a 20-centimeter final layer of asphalt, but the Angolan
resurfacing work he has observed is closer to 8 cm. thick.
In hot weather, traffic will further thin the asphalt. The
director of operations for the 20th Railway Brigade also
critizized the quality of the road work, volunteered to
Econoff that the quality is far below Chinese standards.

Buy American
------------

5. (U) Road building equipment bore the logo of the China
International Foundation (CIF), the prime contractor with the
National Reconstruction Office (GRN) for infrastructure
projects financed through the lines of credit. Some also
bore the Caterpillar brand. The local Caterpillar dealer
explained that the company building the Benguela road brought
its Caterpillar equipment with it from China, but he has sold
new earth moving equipment to other Chinese companies in
Angola. In addition, he said that most of the Chinese
construction companies here buy their electrical generators
from Caterpillar in Angola.

Comment
-------

6. (U) The viability of the port of Lobito as an
alternative to the over crowded Port of Luanda depends, to a
great extent, on the quality of the road linkage between
Lobito and Angola's capital city. The older roads will
eventually have to be replaced by a more modern highway that
can more effectively handle heavy cargo and increase traffic
flows before the Lobito Port can realize its full potential.
FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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