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The Mozambican government on Wednesday delivered 38 new buses to the Mozambican Road Transport Federation (FEMATRO) to boost privately-run passenger services in Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola.
The buses, acquired through the government’s Transport and Communications Development Fund, can each carry 90 passengers, and will operate several of the main routes between the two cities, and beyond, to the districts of Marracuene and Boane.
Speaking at the ceremony, Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita said the new buses will contribute to the needs for safe and efficient transport, particularly for students. He added that the government has also increased the supply of public transport in Beira and Dondo cities, in the central province of Sofala, in Xai-Xai, capital of the southern province of Gaza, and in Mossuril in the northern province of Nampula.
Improved public transport in these areas, he said, will minimise the delays citizens face in reaching their places of work or study. The plans of his ministry involve the delivery of a further 270 buses by the end of June.
The 38 buses delivered on Wednesday, Mesquita said, are insured, and maintenance services are guaranteed. But he urged the FEMATRO members, organised into cooperatives, to observe scrupulously the terms of their agreements with the government, particularly for the maintenance of the buses, ensuring a long working life for the vehicles.
But FEMATRO seems to reard the buses as something of a poisoned chalice. The FEMATRO deputy chairperson, Luis Munguambe, said that at the current fares the buses are not sustainable financially, particularly with the constant traffic jams on Maputo and Matola roads which reduce the number of journeys a bus can make in a day. He thought that each 90 seater bus could carry a maximum of 900 passengers a day.
He accused the government of violating the memorandum of understanding it had signed with FEMATRO last year which envisaged an increase in fares. “These matters disturb us and we think the question of fares must be solved urgently, if this project is to be successful”, Munguambe said.
Bus fares in the Greater Maputo area are currently seven meticais (11.7 US cents) for distances of up to ten kilometres, and nine meticais for longer trips. The Maputo Municipal Assembly last September approved a proposal to raise the fares to 10 and 12 meticais, but this increase will only take effect when decreed by the City Council.
The last time fares were increased was in 2012.Source: AIM