Mozambique’s Minister of Public Works, Carlos Bonete, stressed on Wednesday that the main government effort in his area for the next five years will be to build an alternative trunk road from the south to the north of the country, complementing the existing EN1 north-south highway.
Speaking in the town of Boane, 30 kilometres west of Maputo, at the opening of a meeting of his Ministry’s Coordinating Council, Bonete said that parts of this alternative route already exist. They include the recently inaugurated 240 kilometre road between Chimoio and Espungabera, in the central province of Manica, and the 230 kilometre stretch between Canicado and Chicualacuala in Gaza, in the couth.
At the other end of the country, the government will continue work on the road between the northern cities of Nampula and Lichinga. The road is complete as far as Malema, to the west of Nampula, and brigades are now working on the stretch between Malema and Cuamba. Work will begin on the final stretch, from Cuamba to Lichinga, the two main cities in Niassa province, in the first quarter of 2016,
The dangers of relying on just one main north-south road became brutally clear in January when major flooding on the Licungo river in Zambezia province cut EN1 in several places. Most seriously, parts of the bridge carrying EN1 over the Licingo at the town of Mocuba were swept away, and it took more than a month to repair them. During this period the three northern provinces (Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado) were effectively cut off from the rest of the country.
Bonete stressed that the new roads under construction and those that are being rehabilitated will all have toll gates. Motorists must pay to use these roads, so that the investment made can be recovered.
“All thse investments assume some return”, he said, although the matter was still being studied on a case by case basis.
He cited the Maputo Ring Road, begun in 2012 and now almost complete, as an example of the need to recover the massive investment made. The 74 kilometre ring road cost about 315 million US dollars. Of this amount, 300 million dollars is a loan from China which must be repaid. The Ring Road would be paid for by toll gates, but Bonete said no final decision has yet been taken on how many toll gates will be installed.
The Minister noted that of Mozambique’s total classified road network of about 30,000 kilometres, only 23 per cent is paved.
“In recent years the government tarred about 2,000 kilometres of road, which was an enormous financial effort”, said Bonete. “Naturally this effort is continuing and will continue, taking into account the contribution made by roads to stimulating he development of the country”.
One key road undergoing rehabilitation is the highway from Beira to Zimbabwe. This will involve building a second bridge over the Pungoe river, adjacent to the existing bridge, a new junction at Inchope, where the Beira-Zimbbwe road and EN1 cross, weighbridges to control truck cargoes, and toll gates.