6 February 2013

Mozambique: Rain Holds Up Repairs to Northern Rail Line

Maputo — Further torrential rain in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula is thwarting efforts to repair the railway from Malawi to the port of Nacala.

Last Friday, the Nachicuva River burst its banks and flooded the Nampula municipality of Monapo. In doing so, it swept away earthworks on which the railway rested, opening a crater that is 70 metres long. The tracks now hang in mid-air and so all rail traffic between Nampula city and Nacala has been suspended.

The company that runs the railway, the Northern Development Corridor (CDN) hopes that temporary repairs could be concluded within a week, thus allowing traffic to resume on 9 February.

This emergency work would consist of building a provisional wooden bridge to support the tracks. But the attempts to put such a bridge in place have failed so far because of the continuing rain.

CDN rail director, Manuel Mucopa, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, told reporters “the situation is very delicate, because if the rain does not stop, the period we originally established for re-opening the line to traffic will have to be extended”.

Although Mucopa could give no exact figures, the losses caused by the interruption to traffic are clearly enormous. Last Friday, there were already 300 containers in Nacala port ready to be moved by rail to Malawi. Since ships carrying cargo for Malawi docked at Nacala over the weekend, the number of containers must have risen.

Among the goods that Malawi normally imports along the railway are fuel and fertilizer, and so the shutdown of the line could have a serious impact on the Malawian economy.

In the south of the country, electricity has been restored to Gaza and Inhambane provinces following an incident on Sunday night when a bolt of lightning struck a conductor on the transmission line carrying power to the two provinces from the sub-station at Infulene.

According to Alberto Banze, a spokesperson for the electricity company EDM, the power to the two provinces was restored at about 21.00 on Monday, after tests were carried out on the repairs.

About 130,000 EDM clients were affected by the power cut.

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