Maputo, 15 Aug (AIM) – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Monday called for an urgent solution to the dramatic congestion on the N4 motorway between Maputo and the South African town of Witbank.
The congestion is on the South African side of the border, with huge queues of trucks, most of them carrying minerals, waiting to make their way to the port of Maputo.
Nyusi said the key stakeholders in the transport sector must draw up plans for ending the congestion, which is having a serious impact on both the Mozambican and the South African economies.
Nyusi made this demand at a ceremony in Maputo which launched commemorations of the 120th anniversary of Maputo port.
“The situation is disturbing because traffic doesn’t move. Discuss this and find a solution”, the President urged. “Human beings were made to think, and I believe you can do this”.
Mozambicans and South Africans, and the international community as a whole, he added, are waiting expectantly for “creative solutions” to ensure flexibility in the transport of people and goods between the two countries.
The obvious solution is that most cargo heading for the port of Maputo should go by rail. The fact that it does not shows the enormous power wielded by the road haulage lobby.
Nyusi argued that the development of the Maputo port and rail complex should be based on “greater balance” between road and rail transport. This would mitigate the impact on the N4 motorway of the growth in operations of the port.
He instructed the port managers and the Transport Ministry to find solutions so that the growth of the Mozambican economy occurs in line with the well-being of the population, and of users of the N4 in particular.
Turning to the commemorations of the 120th anniversary of the port, Nyusi noted that, after 20 years of public-private partnership in managing the port, the results of the investments made are clear for all to see, guaranteeing safety and operational efficiency, but also making it one of the most competitive ports in the region.
In 20 years, the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) has invested about 800 million dollars in the port.
The knowledge and the capital brought by the MPDC concession, said Nyusi, “have allowed a leap in cargo handling capacity, from five million tonnes in 2003 to 27 million tonnes in 2022.
The General Manager of the MPDC, Osorio Lucas, said that reducing congestion along the N4 must not be at the expense of reducing the port’s business, given the port’s benefits to the economy and to job creation.
He believed the way forward was to switch cargo away from the N4 and onto the South Africa-Maputo railway.
“What we want is to find a balanced equation between an increased volume of rail transport, and the continued increase in road transport, but road transport should be outside of the rush hours”, said Lucas.
He added that MPDC and the publicly-owned port and rail company, CFM “are working to integrate our digital systems to make communication easier. The movement of wagons in the port will also become easier”.
Among the measures taken by CFM and MPDC to minimise the N4 congestion is the building of a park for trucks at Pessene, just outside the city, budgeted at three million US dollars.
A second phase of this project will see some commercial and port processing activities moved from Maputo to Pessene.