Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina on Wednesday insisted that the Gaza provincial government must take firm measures to persuade people affected by floods in the Limpopo Valley to move definitively to higher ground.
Vaquina was speaking at a session of the National Operational Emergency Centre (CENOE) held in the Gaza provincial capital, Xai-Xai. The Prime Minister is on a two day visit to Gaza, assessing the impact of the Limpopo floods, which have affected around 160,000 people in Gaza.
Cited in Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, Vaquina called for “definitive resettlement” to avoid repetition of the same drama next time the Limpopo bursts its banks.
He admitted that such a resettlement programme would meet resistance from some people who might not understand the importance of the measure. But the provincial government, he said, “should show greater firmness and never vacillate before a situation which in essence seeks to save human lives and property”.
“As a government, it is up to us to show the people the best path to follow, and we must be firm and consistent”, he said. “At the beginning here will obviously be some resistance, but later they will understand that we all win when we are in better conditions of safety”.
Vaquina said the resettlement did not mean that people should stop farming on the Limpopo flood plain. On the contrary, nobody should lose their land near the river. They should grow crops in the fertile low-lying areas, while living under safe conditions on higher ground. Any houses that people built close to their fields should be merely temporary.
“A small house at the site of agricultural production should be used merely to store produce which is later taken to the higher land for family consumption or for sale”, he added.
It was precisely these measures, taken after the floods on the Zambezi in 2007 and 2008, which had reduced the impact of flooding on people living near the river basins in the centre of the country, said Vaquina.
Meanwhile, Mozambique’s main north-south highway remains cut at Amoro, in Nicoadala district, in the central province of Zambezia. Torrential rains have washed away part of the road, opening a huge crater. According to the Zambezia provincial delegate of the National Roads Administration (ANE), Daniel Patel, the crater widened from nine metres when the crisis began, on Monday, to 25 metres on Wednesday.
ANE has hired contractors to install a metallic bridge across the cut, which will allow traffic to resume. But the bridge has yet to arrive from Beira.
“We have acquired earth to fill the crater”, said Patel, “and two trucks are coming from Mocuba bringing stone”. But operations to repair the road are being hindered by the continuing rain.
Vehicle drivers and their passengers are stranded on both sides of the cut in the road, suffering from fatigue and shortage of food and clean water.