100 bridges later

100 bridges later

In mid 2007, 2 years after its foundation, VESAM began to introduce a new approach to steel bridge design. “Most designers focused on optimizing the structure to lower steel costs, but we realized that in remote geographies, namely in Angola and Mozambique, the biggest costs that contractors had in building bridges were the lifting means and welding on site” – tells us Filipe Santos, founder and CEO of Vesam. Vesam’s design approach has drifted to the total cost of construction, adapting the bridge design to the availability and cost-effectiveness of the contractor lifting means. The design always ensured that the heaviest loose part would be manageable by the existing means previously indicated by the contractor. On the other hand, Vesam engineering has favoured bolted connections to the limit, seeking to avoid the need for on-site welding which, in remote locations, can represent a surprising increase in costs.

The first Vesam bridge was designed and built between 2006 and 2007, in Humabo province, Angola, and had a 60 meter deck over the Keve River.

To date, this experience was not limited only to engineering and construction aspects, but much beyond that, from a land that still had mines from the extinct civil war to sporadic visits by crocodiles in the vicinity of the work site.

Joaquim Rodrigues, was the engineering director of the work and tells an unforgettable episode: “At the beginning of the assembly, the site was supplied by a convoy of 5 trucks that transported the structure along a dirt road. Of these 5 who left the Port of Lobito, only the first 4 arrived at the site, the last having disappeared completely. In those times, communications were difficult or almost impossible and we didn’t know the location of that truck for five days. We had to go the other way around and find the poor driver on the side of the road with a broken truck engine and no communications”.

The work only took a month to complete, but the experiences lived in that context persist until today, and many of them were a source of inspiration for Vesam engineering, which since then has not stopped developing solutions to shorten deadlines and reduce costs.


The future of the bridge area at Vesam brings two great challenges: the first is to take this consolidated experience to new geographies, continuing to unite peoples and contribute to improving people’s quality of life. The second is to perpetuate the life-cycle of bridges through monitoring and new artificial intelligence technologies that allow timely and intelligent action in prevention and maintenance.

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