Maputo — The Mayor of the northern Mozambican port of Nacala, Chale Ossufo, has warned that erosion in the city is becoming alarming, and may even threaten the future of Nacala as a deep water port.
"There is a danger that one day these deep waters may cease to exist because of the sediments accumulating in the access channel and in the port itself", Ossufo told AIM.
The mayor stressed the necessity "to do something to prevent this from happening", suggesting that in the coming period 50 per cent of the municipal budget should be used for the fight against erosion.
Currently the figure is 40 per cent, and Ossufo said this has proved insufficient, "given the seriousness of the situation, which requires an immediate solution".
The mayor said that erosion has been worsened by the building of houses in areas where construction is forbidden, "and this situation is because the former municipal council authorised people to go and live even in places where billboards had been erected forbidding the construction of homes".
Ossufo was elected in February 2009, on the ticket of the ruling Frelimo Party. The previous municipal administration from 2003 to 2008 was in the hands of the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.
"People are increasingly building in these prohibited places, and it is precisely this which is creating problems of erosion", said Chale. "I think if there is no immediate solution, the situation is going to endanger our deep water port".
The municipal council has equipment to mitigate the effects of erosion including gabions acquired in South Africa, which are intended to stabilize the shoreline. "But the settlement of people in prohibited areas is making our work difficult", he insisted.
Nacala is generally regarded as the best deep-water port on the East African coast.
The depth of its waters is such that ships of any size can enter the port, 24 hours a day.
Nacala will become crucial for the export of the coal mined in Mozambique's western province of Tete.
The Brazilian mining company Vale plans a new railway from Tete to Nacala, and a new coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha, on the opposite side of Nacala bay to the current port.