Renamo attacks coal train in Nampula

Nampula (Mozambique) (AIM) – Gunmen of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo attacked a train belonging to the coal mining company Vale-Mozambique in the northern province of Nampula, in the small hours of Thursday morning.

Source: Renamo attacks coal train in Nampula – The Zimbabwean 09.10.2016

At a Friday press conference in Nampula city, the spokesperson for the provincial police command, Zacarias Nacute, said the attack took place in Mutuali, in Malema district at about 01.00. The Renamo gang caused damage to the front of the locomotive, and shattered windows. Shards of glass hit the train driver, causing slight injuries.

The train was taking coal from Vale’s open cast mine at Moatize, in Tete province, to the new mineral port at Nacala-a-Velha, on the Nampula coast. Nacute said that Renamo attempted, unsuccessfully, to set the locomotive on fire.

He said the police have now sent a unit to the site of the attack to guarantee public order and tranquillity. “Unfortunately we were unable to neutralize any of the attackers”, Nacute added, “but the police are on the spot working to assess the circumstances of the attack, and discover the whereabouts of those carrying out armed attacks in our province, so that they may be taken to justice”.

This is the second attack on the northern rail corridor in less than a week. On Monday night Renamo attacked a goods train between Cuamba and Nampula cities, and injured one member of its crew. This train was carrying empty wagons back to port, and was not owned by Vale.

There are two railways which Vale can use to take coal to port. One is the Sena line, which runs from Tete province to the port of Beira. The second is the new line, financed by Vale, which runs from Moatize through southern Malawi, and then links up with the existing northern corridor. This line was built to accommodate extremely long coal trains carrying the mineral to Nacala-a-Velha.

When its trains on the Sena line suffered two attacks, Vale suspended the use of this railway about two months ago. Now it may feel obliged to suspend traffic on the line to Nacala as well.

Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita, cited by the radio station “Voice of America”, said he recently held a meeting with Vale representatives to persuade the Brazilian company to resume its use of the Sena line. He assured them that the defence and security forces would protect the line.

Mesquita also told the radio that the interruption of coal traffic along the Sena line had caused losses of around 50 million US dollars to the publicly-owned ports and rail company, CFM.

Renamo’s attacks on roads and railways are reminiscent of its tactics during the war of destabilisation in the 1980s and early 1990s, when it sought to throttle the Mozambican economy by destroying the transport network. During this period it completely ruined the Sena Line, which, after the 1992 peace agreement, had to be completely rebuilt at great expense.