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The new Bangui bridge soon in place. A very European cooperation (update)

(credit: EUFOR RCA)
(credit: EUFOR RCA)

(BRUXELLES2) It is a very European story that will mark the next bridge installed in Bangui to connect the 2nd, 3rd and 5th arrondissements of the Central African capital, now divided by a canal. A symbolic bridge (*) as had been in Mostar also rebuilt by Europeans.

Last assembly tests at the Ucatex camp

The Italian engineers of the European peacekeeping operation in CAR (EUFOR RCA) have just successfully completed the assembly tests of the modular metal bridge, with the supervision of military engineers... Czech. One of the last steps before the final installation. A test structure 30 meters long (including access ramps) was built in a dedicated area of ​​the UCATEX base in Bangui. The assembly was preceded by theoretical training on technical assembly procedures. Six modules – for a total of 1.000 elements and a weight of 20 tons – were implemented to reproduce the structure

The "Agnes of Bohemia" bridge

The bridge is a gift from the Czech Republic (it was originally made in Poland). It appeared in the list of requests made by the EUFOR RCA command to the Member States. And the decision was finally approved by the Czech government in early December. This gift " should contribute to improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of Bangui, the original bridge over the canal, which ensures the circulation of people and the transport of goods between the different districts of the city in the capital, having been destroyed during the conflict “, explained at the time the deputy chief of staff of the army, general Jiří Baloun. The bridge should receive the name "Agnès de Bohême". A name chosen after a competition in Czech schools. Agnes of Bohemia was the patroness of the sick, the poor and the suffering, pushed for peace without wars and violence, miraculously protecting the country before the Czech war. A name not yet confirmed on site but which has been engraved on a steel plate, which should be fixed after the construction of the bridge structure.

(credit: Czech MOD)
The bridge as it was will be once erected - originally in the Czech Republic in July 2013 (credit: Czech MOD)

A very European lego story

Weighing 45 tons and 24 meters long, the bridge had to be dismantled, before being transported, divided into 1700 pieces, put on 141 pallets, before being slid into an Antonov An-124 specially chartered on occasion by Sweden (which paid for the transport under the NATO Salis contract). The plane left Pardubice airport, after a stopover in Madrid (Spain) to pick up various equipment. It is implemented today by the engineers of the Italian mountain troops, with German and Czech assistance, in particular engineers from the 153e Battalion from Olomouc, who patiently reconstruct the Lego. While the safety device of the construction site, in the city, will be ensured by the Multinational Battalion of EUFOR and the Unit of the European Gendarmerie. Technical reconnaissance missions will be carried out on the construction site to establish all the measures prior to the installation of the bridge.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(*) This bridge is put in place on a provisional basis, while waiting for a bridge that will be rebuilt in hard (concrete), the "Castor" bridge, financed by the European Commission.

the drawing of Czech schoolchildren illustrating the competition for the bridge (credit: MOD Czech)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).