Historic return of rhinos to Mozambique
File photo: On February 19 2022. [File photo: Conselho Autarquico de Quelimane on Facebook]
The first cycle path in Mozambique will – with Portuguese funding assured under a protocol signed on Tuesday – advance by a few more kilometres the transformation of Quelimane into the “green capital of Africa’.
The signing ceremony of the technical and financial collaboration protocol between the Environmental Fund and the Municipal Council of the City of Quelimane, Mozambique, was attended by Portugal’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, and the president of the Mozambican municipality, Manuel de Araujo.
The protocol will extend the cycle path by another two kilometres. The path, currently 3.6 kilometres long, was built with €21,000 in financial support from the Portuguese state – a further €20,000 guaranteeing the phase now starting.
The Portuguese minister underlined the commitment of Quelimane municipality, which, despite other pressing needs, was not forgetting the fight against the climate change which so directly impacts Mozambique.
“In a country where there are so many pressing needs, Quelimane City Council, while taking care of these needs, has a vision of the future and a commitment to combating climate change,” said João Pedro Matos Fernandes.
Quelimane and Maputo were the first two African cities to join the Decarbonised Transport Alliance, chaired by Portugal when it was first created.
For the mayor of Quelimane, the bike path represents the realisation of a dream that he has cherished since he was first elected in 2011, but for which he had no finance. Now, his dreams are within reach, thanks to the Environmental Fund of Portugal.
Mayor Araujo recalled that much has been done to improve traffic in Quelimane. “Imagine a city with 600,000 inhabitants, and about 5,000 cyclists, that didn’t have a single traffic light – no vertical or horizontal traffic signalling. It was chaos!” he remembers.
The municipality took measures to “improve the safety of users”, installing traffic lights to regulate traffic and building this bike path.
“The safer people feel, the more they cycle, which improves their health and helps prevent climate change,” he said.
“This will be the first cycle path in Mozambique,” he boasted, “and it will serve as a sign to other cities and districts. Other population centres will find in Quelimane an example to follow.”
Manuel de Araújo has encountered resistance from those who say that bike lanes steal space from cars, but he takes it all in his stride, remembering that, when he lived in London, he heard much the same thing.
The municipality is committed to becoming the “Green Capital City of Africa”, expecting to complete the second part of the project thanks to the protocol just signed.
“The first kilometres connect the peripheral zone to the city centre. Now, we are going to drain traffic from the city to the periphery,” de Araújo explained.