The 40th Anniversary of the Matadi Bridge: A Symbol of the Friendship Between the Congo and Japan


The ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of the completion of the Matadi Bridge, built with the help of a Japanese ODA loan signed in 1974, was held on June 20, 2023 in Matadi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In attendance from the Congolese side were Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Human Rights Fabrice Puela; Deputy Minister of Transportation Seraphine Kilubu; Governor of Kongo Central Guy Bandu Ndungidi; Mayor of Matadi Dominique Nkodia Mbete; and General Director of Organization for Equipment of Banana-Kinshasa (OEBK) Jean-Claude Mavambu Baka. From the Japanese side were Ambassador Minami Hiroyuki; General Director of the Africa Department of JICA Yanase Naoki; and Chief Representative of the JICA DRC Office Murakami Hironobu.

The Matadi Bridge is a 722-m long suspension bridge over the Matadi river port, about 150 km up the Congo River from the Atlantic Ocean, and is the only bridge crossing the middle and lower sections of the Congo River. Its construction having begun in February 1979 and being completed in April 1983, it has played an important role in the economic and social development of the country. The design and structural form of the bridge were adopted with reference to the suspension-bridge form of the Shimotsui Seto Bridge—one of the Honshu-Shikoku bridges—under construction at the time. During the former Zairean period, banknotes featuring the bridge design were issued, emblematizing the bridge’s important role within the economy and society. In addition, at the Second Japan-African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) Summit Roundtable, held in New York in 2014, then Prime Minister Abe Shinzo introduced the Japanese engineers involved in the bridge’s construction as “Seven Samurai,” noting that Japan continues to support the transfer of maintenance and management skills to the next generation and that the bridge is a permanent symbol of the friendship between the DRC and Japan.

JICA has contributed to the formulation of a medium- to long-term management plan for the OEBK and the improvement of the management skills of engineers through a technical cooperation project that was launched in 2012 and ran until 2015. In addition to the capacity development of the OEBK, the air-drying system was introduced in 2017 through a grant aid project, which also contributed to the proper maintenance and management of the bridge.

Young engineers from the OEBK continue to maintain and manage the bridge, passing on the skills they inherited from Japanese experts. At the ceremony, the Cabinet of the President awarded medals to four retirees who contributed to the OEBK, including Mr. Madiata and Mr. Kalombo, engineers who were involved in the maintenance of the bridge for many years.

The Matadi Bridge plays a significant role as a land transportation hub, connecting the city of Matadi—the largest river port city in the country, where approximately 40% of imported cargo is unloaded—the ports of Matadi, Banana, and Boma in the Kongo Central Province, and the capital, Kinshasa. As health and educational facilities in Matadi are concentrated on the left bank, the bridge is also essential for the residents on the right bank of the Congo River to access social services. JICA will continue to support quality infrastructure development and contribute to the economic growth and regional stability of the DRC.

Director General of JICA’s African Department Yanase Naoki.

Ambassador Minami Hiroyuki.

Ceremony attendees (government and business officials).

The Matadi Bridge.

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