Maputo, 23 Jun (AIM) – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced on Thursday that the rehabilitation of the country’s main north-south highway (EN1) will begin in May 2024, thus contradicting the promise given by Public Works Minister Carlos Mesquita that work on rebuilding the road would begin in the second half of 2023.
Nyusi was speaking in Maputo at the opening session of the 18th edition of the Annual Private Sector Conference (CASP).
He did not say why the start of rehabilitation has been postponed. The initial phase of the work will cover 508 kilometres of EN1. These cover the stretches from the Inchope crossroads to Gorongosa, in the central province of Sofala; from Gorongosa to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi river; from Chimuara to Nicoadala, in Zambezia province; and from Metoro to Pemba, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. This work will cost 400 million US dollars, financed by the World Bank.
In August 2022, Mesquita had told reporters that the work would begin in 2023. “The first question was to obtain the financing and at least a part of that has now been guaranteed”, he said. “By the second half of 2023, the work will begin”.
The Minister has had to back down somewhat: he now claims that the rehabilitation has already begun with a series of studies. “We have to undertake studies”, he said. “We have studies, but we have to update them since over time the road has been damaged. Now that we are coming out of the rainy season, there has been additional damage, and that requires deeper analysis”.
Nyusi told the Conference that his government will analyse the various questions presented by the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations – but he warned this did not mean that the government will allow the CTA “to make the cheapest deals in the world, at the expense of the national economy”.
Among the complaints made by CTA chairperson Agostinho Vuma was the accusation that government departments took an inordinately long time before paying invoices submitted by private businesses.
These delays are getting longer, and Vuma said they mean that companies, mostly small and medium enterprises, are financing the State, and limiting their own growth.
“We are proposing that the government set maximum limits to the accumulation of these debts”, urged Vuma. “The annual state budget should include a specific line for payment of the debts”.