A nation and its people come together
Works to improve transportation infrastructure benefit urban and rural areas of Angola
Ernesto Adriano Cassacula is 24, has a 3-month-old daughter, lives in Caala, in Huambo Province, Angola, and got his first job in late 2010, working at Odebrecht. He likes his job, as well as the roadways that Odebrecht is restoring and reconfiguring – they connect Caala to the towns of Ganda and Ekunha. “Transportation is much easier now. Today we can visit our families and there is a variety of products available for sale in the shops,” he says.
Caala is an important town, because it acts as a hub. All the agricultural and industrial products from Huambo Province pass through there on their way to the Port of Lobito in Benguela Province. Products that arrive in the port, as well as from South Africa and Namibia, travel in the opposite direction.
Antonio Zeferino Neto owns AZN Transporte, a bus company that transports passengers between the provinces. He started AZN four years ago. Previously, no one had traveled by bus between Benguela and Huambo, but now he has competition. Even so, the number of buses AZN runs has doubled. The company has 70 people on its payroll. “The population is traveling more and more to do business, go on holiday and attend parties and festivals,” says Zeferino Neto.
Benguela and Huambo
Angola’s second-largest and most prosperous province has the second-most important port in the country: Lobito. The roads that run through Benguela facilitate the distribution and shipment of goods. They also serve to strengthen the nation’s road links with Namibia and South Africa and foster the development of Namibe, a desert province with tremendous tourist potential. In Benguela, Odebrecht has built the Benguela-Catengue and Benguela-Dombe Grande routes and in 2012 it is working on the reconfiguration of the Benguela-Baía Farta Highway (which will link the other two routes, already completed, and provide easy access to the fishing and tourist area in Baía Farta).
While reconfiguring the highway that connects Benguela with Dombe Grande, Odebrecht also paved and signaled the streets of the small town of Dombe Grande. These three main thoroughfares are routinely traveled by about 85,000 people who live in the center of town or in one of 52 villages and settlements in the region.
In colonial times, Dombe Grande was a major sugar producer, but now the factory there is abandoned. A few buildings are still standing. Local residents generally make a living from farming – an activity that has been bolstered by improved access to town. The improvement of the road has also increased the number of visitors. But what can visitors do in Dombe Grande? In addition to its vegetable market, the town is the most mystical center of Angola. Every family has at least one traditional healer. “Visitors come here to seek relief from their pain. I take advantage of the bustling streets to sell ice cream,” says Ana Dungula, 20. She is happy because business has improved since the dust from the road works settled.
In Huambo, the roads Odebrecht has built (Caala-Cuíma, Caala-Ganda, Ekunha-Caala and Cuíma-Gove) connect the province, whose economy is based on agribusiness, with Angola’s consumer markets in the provinces of Kwanza Sul, Namibe and Benguela, and other countries through the Port of Lobito and overland routes, via the link with Namibia and South Africa. The provincial capital, Huambo, called Nova Lisboa in colonial times, is a tourist resort.
Challenges in Luanda
Highways in rural Angola connect people and economies and foster development, and the same is true for Luanda, the nation’s capital. That city is home to about half the country’s population. Due to the armed conflicts that are now part of Angola’s past, Luanda quickly became a large urban center and faced the challenges typical of rapid, disorganized growth. However, it is implementing a plan to solve the city’s problems, and Odebrecht is an active part of that undertaking.
The program includes the Luanda Structural Roadways project, made up of highways and expressways that reduce the volume of downtown traffic, make life easier for residents of outlying areas by providing access to the city center, and facilitate travel between the port and the interior of the country, thereby boosting trade. They are the Luanda-Viana-Cacuaco Beltway (Downtown); the Luanda-Kifangondo Expressway (North); the Cabolombo-Futungo Junction (South); the Luanda-Viana Expressway; and the Lar do Patriota, Samba, Golfe and 21 de Janeiro highways.
The 21 de Janeiro Highway, which connects the airport to downtown Luanda, used to be a congested thoroughfare. There was constant flooding on that route during the rainy season, making it impassable. Local residents had no sidewalks or pedestrian walkways to ensure a safe crossing. Odebrecht has remodeled and widened the highway, which is now paved and enhanced with shoulders, drainage, lighting, wider sidewalks and landscaping.
Maria Eugenia Antonio Mateus and Mariana Agostinho da Cruz work at the Maranata pharmacy, which opened in the Cacuaco district in January. “I’m sure we will do well, because business is already improving,” says Maria Eugenia, who has a nursing certificate. “This route will help attract organized businesses,” she observes. She is also happy for another reason: before the road works were completed in November 2011, it took her over an hour to get home from work. Now the commute takes less than 30 minutes.
Odebrecht members have also benefited from the project. Jorge Manuel, 24, joined the company four years ago. He started out as a carpenter and is now a supervisor. He says that, at first, commuting to work was stressful, although he lived just 15 km from the jobsite. Three years ago the commute took an hour, but now he can get to work in just 10 minutes. “Now I have more time to spend with my family, and I’ve even started taking a technical course in biophysics to grow professionally,” he says.
Odebrecht’s transport infrastructure projects in Angola are bringing immediate and significant benefits for the Angolan people. And a number of new projects are going to make their lives even better. The client is the Angolan Ministry of Urban Planning and Construction, and the projects have been included in the national government’s Public Investment Program (PIP) for 2012. They are part of a USD 600 million package of road works that will be carried out within three to four years. To achieve this goal, Odebrecht will groom and mobilize approximately 2,000 Angolan workers – and if everything goes as planned, at least 20% of them will be women.
One of these new projects is “R 17”: a route linking the district of Camama with the Marginal Sudoeste Highway to facilitate access for people living in the densely populated satellite towns of Viana and Kiaxi. The second is the Marginal Sudoeste Highway itself, which connects Largo da Corimba and Bispo Beach (it runs parallel to the heavily traveled Samba Highway, which has already been refurbished). Odebrecht has already built seven bridges for this project. The third new project is a road artery linking the 21 de Janeiro Highway to the Golfe Highway, improving traffic flow for people traveling between the south and center of Luanda.
These works are all getting underway in 2012. Odebrecht Angola has already delivered a number of roads, and will deliver even more in 2012 – in Luanda and the provinces of Benguela, Huambo and Malange. All of them are vital for the nation’s economic development and physical unity. The projects in Luanda allow for expansion that will lead to a lower population density and, therefore, better organization, planning and implementation of urban infrastructure facilities – which will also have a positive impact on people’s health and well-being.
These are just some of the initiatives now underway in Angola, a country with a territory twice the size of the Brazilian state of Bahia (which is roughly the size of France), although most of its population is concentrated in Luanda. The nation’s economy has grown at an average annual rate of about 10.8% over the past six years. By deploying transport infrastructure works, Odebrecht is working to ensure that development benefits all Angolans, both rural and urban.