Mozambique: North-South Highway Will Soon Run the Whole Length of Mozambique

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Maputo — Mozambique’s Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, has told the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic that, with the current efforts to extend the main north-south highway (EN1), it will soon link the entire country “from the Rovuma to the Maputo” – the two rivers marking Mozambique’s northern and southern boundaries.

Speaking in a two day question and answer session between the government and the parliamentary deputies, Machatine said that currently EN1 runs for about 2,500 kilometres, from Maputo City to Pemba, capital of Cabo Delgado province.

But the suspension bridge over the Bay of Maputo, due to be inaugurated on Saturday, and the 115 kilometre road southwards from the bridge, will extend EN1 to the resort of Ponta do Ouro, and the border with the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal.

At the other end of the country, the roads from Pemba to the far north of Cabo Delgado are being improved. In particular, said Machatine, money is available to pave the road from Mueda to Negomano, on the south bank of the Rovuma, at the Unity Bridge which connects Mozambique to Tanzania.

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When that is complete, he said, EN1 will run all the way from Negomano to Ponta do Ouro, a distance of 3,010 kilometres.

To avoid any breaks in the road, Machatine added, three new bridges are being build in the Cabo Delgado districts of Macomia and Muidumbe, two over the Messalo river and one over the Mapuede.

But the Minister admitted that 543 kilometres of EN1 are in poor condition and require urgent work if the road is to remain passable. The government does not yet have the funds for complete rehabilitation of these stretches. So emergency repairs had begun to stretches in Inhambane and Sofala provinces “so that, over the next 10 to 12 months, circulation of people and goods is guaranteed without any restrictions”.

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He announced that the government is repairing the 50 year old bridge over the Save river, which marks the conventional boundary between southern and central Mozambique, in order to prolong its life span. A provisional metallic bridge is being erected over the Save which traffic will use while the main bridge is being repaired. The metallic bridge will take weights of up to 56 tonnes, while the poor state of the current bridge restricts the weight it can carry to 35 tonnes.

Machatine noted that 13 bridges have been concluded on the road between Ile and Cuamba, linking Zambezia and Niassa provinces “which makes it possible to develop agricultural production and marketing in Ile, Gurue and Cuamba districts”. These are regions of great potential for cotton, tobacco, tea, maize beans and soya, which can now be moved along the Ile-Cuamba road at any time of year.

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270 kilometres of the 287 kilometre road from Beira to Zimbabwe have been rehabilitated, including construction of a new bridge over the Pungue river. This, Machatine said, was “an immeasurable gain for the mobility of goods inside and outside the country, galvanizing economic development along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe corridor, used by about 6,500 vehicles a day”.

The major threat to the country’s roads remained overloaded trucks. The government has acquired weighbridges, said the Minister, but truck owners seek ways of taking routes that avoid the weighbridges.

He showed the Assembly photographs of the damage done to a metallic bridge in Nampula province on Monday by an overloaded truck. The truck, carrying 86 logs, apparently taken from trees felled illegally in the Gile National Reserve, in Zambezia, was attempting to reach Nacala port, but the bridge over the Mutomote river, on the road between Liupo and Angoche districts, could not support its weight and collapsed.

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