25 June 2012

Mozambique: Public Tender Launched for Demining Former Arms Depot

Maputo — Mozambique's Environment Fund (FUNAB) has launched a public tender to select a company to carry out demining at the former arsenal in the outer Maputo suburb of Malhazine.

In May the Mozambican government announced that the site, covering an area of 568 hectares, is to become an "Ecological Park".

The tender document states that the company selected will carry out technical studies, mine clearance and quality control over the whole area.

"This is part of the government's strategy to clear the former military arsenal in Malhazine of mines, ammunition and unexploded ordnance", states FUNAB, which is part of the Environment Ministry.

The Ecological Park will include green spaces accommodating animal species representative of Mozambican wildlife. There will also be veterinary, research, and leisure facilities.

Unlike everywhere else in Maputo, the habitat in much of the 568 hectares is relatively untouched since this was a military area and ordinary citizens had no access to it.

The Malhazine arms depot was built in the colonial era, but with population growth it became surrounded by houses and commercial buildings.

The government decided to move the arms depot to a more remote area when disaster struck on 22 March 2007.

A mixture of high temperatures and negligence led to the arms dump exploding.

The blazing arsenal threw out rockets, mortars, huge artillery shells and other devices. The obsolete weaponry landed up to nine kilometres from the arsenal. The explosions killed 105 people and injured a further 515.

This was not the first explosion at the site. In 1985 thirteen people died and another hundred injured when the arsenal exploded.

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