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The Mozambican government believes it is urgent to shift cargo intended for Maputo port from road to rail, thus easing the congestion on the EN4 motorway between Maputo and South Africa.
Speaking at a debate in Maputo on Thursday, organised by the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), on how to deal with congestion, Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita insisted that bulk minerals should be transported by rail and not by truck “thus maximising the natural advantages that this mode of transport offers for cargo of this sort”.
Mesquita produced some depressing figures. In 2016, 82 per cent of the cargo handled in Maputo port was transported by road, and only 18 per cent by rail. There was some improvement in 2017, when 74 per cent of the port’s cargo went by road, and 26 per cent by rail.
The huge number of trucks using the motorway, Mesqita said, causes deterioration of the road and environmental problems. The truck also increase the risk of traffic accidents. The number of accidents on the motorway in 2017 increased by ten per cent over the 2016 figure. Last January alone, there were 76 accidents on the motorway, ten of them involving heavy goods vehicles.
Mesquita argued that MPDC should improve its capacity to handle cargo brought to the port by rail. He also wanted to see the construction of a dry port that would operate as a buffer zone in handling traffic entering the port, and an expansion of the opening hours at the Ressano Garcia border post on the frontier between Mozambique and South Africa.
Ressano Garcia only works 24 hours a day at peak holiday times (such as the Christmas and New Year period), but Mesquita clearly believed a 24 hour customs service at the border might help ease congestion on the road.
The pressure on Mozambican roads from excessive numbers of trucks is also felt in other cities, such as Beira and Chimoio in the centre of the country.
Mesquita also noted that less than one per cent of goods traffic inside Mozambique goes by sea, although the country has a coastline that is 2,700 kilometres long.
The government intends to re-launch coastal shipping services, under an agreement between the state shipping company Transmaritima, and the French Peschaud group. Moving goods between southern and northern Mozambique by sea could reduce transport costs, and greatly ease the pressure on major roads.Source: AIM