Maputo — The mayor of Maputo, David Simango, has recognised that mistakes have been made in resettling families whose homes will be knocked down to make way for the Maputo Ring Road.
Some houses have already been partly or totally destroyed, and their owners say they were not properly consulted before the bulldozers of the Chinese contractor, CRBC, moved in.
The government has accepted that it is responsible for resettling the families affected, and even announced that it had allocated the equivalent of 15 million US dollars to this task. But, according to a report in the latest issue of the independent weekly "Savana", in the eight months since the project was launched, nobody at all has been resettled.
Simango told reporters that the Maputo Municipal Council is working to correct its initial mistakes. He claimed that the council has now communicated with all those who will have to move. "We believe we shall be able to correct the small shortcomings", he said. "We are doing everything to ensure that there won't be any fuss".
But residents of Zimpeto neighbourhood complained bitterly, when they found they were to be resettled outside of the capital in Marracuene district. They reject the area chosen in Marracuene, the Samora Machel neighbourhood, because it has no water supply, no roads, no electricity, and no schools. It is also an eight kilometre walk from Marracuene town.
The families concerned have suggested other areas where they could be resettled, such as the outer Maputo neighbourhood of Albasini, or the Marracuene locality of Guava.
Since the Ring Road also runs through parts of Marracuene and of the city of Matola, families must be resettled from these areas too. But nobody wants to move to an area with no water or electricity.
The administrator of Marracuene district, Maria Vicente, told "Savana" she thought the complaints were legitimate "because the place where they will be resettled is a very long way from where they currently live".
The district government is in solidarity with these families, she said, but has no alternative. "The people want to be resettled in areas close to their current neighbourhoods, but all these areas are already occupied", said Vicente.
So there was no alternative to the Samora Machel neighbourhood. "The basic conditions don't exist there right now", she admitted. "But I guarantee that within six months there will be the minimum necessary for people to live there.
I can't promise tarred roads and electricity, but there will be basic access roads and water sources".
Nelson Nunes, the general manager of Maputo-Sul, the company building the road, said there was a clear guideline for the local governments to resettle people near to where they are currently living.
"I think that with time the district authorities will find solutions", he added.
It was not acceptable to dump people a long way from their current home.
Furthermore, according to Nunes, the guideline is that nobody should be moved before the place where they are to be resettled has been identified.
In the Matola neighbourhood of Intaka, work brigades of CRBC have been in such a hurry to get the job done, that houses and family fields have been invaded, damaged or even destroyed.
The Matola councillor for planning and urbanization, Ines Chilundo, denied that Matola Council had authorised this. "This act is the entire responsibility of the contractor", she said.
CRBC did not bother to consult Maputo-Sul either. Nunes said the contractor is not authorised to touch houses in which people are still living. No houses should be demolished before finding a resettlement area for the family living here.
In cases where the Chinese company has already damaged houses, the contractor must repair the damage, Nunes said.