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The company Sir Motors has announced that it will build Mozambique’s first private railway station in the southern city of Matola.
Sir Motors is the main shareholder in Fleetrail, the company that will operate the integrated passenger transport system for Greater Maputo, known as Metrobus.
The chairperson of Sir Motors, Amade Camal, revealed his plan for a new station to reporters on Thursday during an experimental Metrobus journey between Maputo and Matola. Cited by the independent television station STV, he said this Metrobus station will be built in the yard of the Matola Customs Freight Terminal (known as Frigo).
There is space there, not only for train platforms, but also for a supermarket covering 2,000 square metres, an automobile workshop, and a car park for 400 vehicles. The station will hold up to 1,500 people, and trains will depart from it every half hour at peak times, starting at 05.30.
While the station is being built, said Camal, passengers will board trains “from a provisional platform that will meet all the necessary conditions for guaranteeing safety and comfort”.
The work involved clearing the land, and bringing back into use two long abandoned rail lines, one of which was buried under a metre of soil.
Fleetrail has imported four second hand railcars from New Zealand, each with four carriages. From the rail stations about 100 buses, also operated by Fleetrail, will take passengers to their final destinations. The Metrobus railcars, unlike the passenger trains operated by the public company CFM, will not be restricted to peak hours, but will make the Maputo-Matola journey throughout the day.
The problem is the fare. Initially Fleetrail proposed to sell a monthly train and bus pass for 3,500 meticais (about 59 US dollars). That meant that most people living in Maputo or Matola could not possibly afford to travel by Metrobus. The minimum wage in the public administration, for example, is 3,996 meticais a month.
Back in November, Camal accepted this, and said the scheme was intended for the middle class, not the poor. The idea was to persuade people who commute in private cars between Matola and Maputo to leave their cars at home and use Metrobus instead.
Now Camal is rethinking the fares. He has already agreed to cut the price of a monthly ticket to 2,500 meticais, and told reporters he was in negotiations with the government over the use of Metrobus to transport staff of the public administration. He gave no details, but his remarks sound very much as if the government is considering subsidising cheap tickets for public servants on Metrobus.
Commercial operations of Metrobus are scheduled to begin on 1 February, so clearly Camal expects negotiations with the government to conclude by then.Source: AIM
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