Maputo — Traffic resumed on Mozambique’s main-south highway in the central province of Zambezia on Friday, after the gap in the road, caused by torrential rains, was temporarily plugged with metal tubing, earth and stones.
The road was cut at Amoro, in Nicoadala district, on Monday, and long queues of vehicles formed on either side of the break in the road. Some light vehicles and even minibuses were pushed across the gap by paid local volunteers, but this was not an option for trucks.
It became possible for vehicles to drive across in the small hours of Friday, before the temporary repairs, undertaken by the contractors Mota Engil and CETA, were complete. But Public Works Minister Cadmiel Muthemba intervened and ordered that no more vehicles should be allowed to cross until the gap had been completely filled. Cited in the daily paper “Noticias”, Muthemba said this was a precaution to avoid the loss of time that would inevitably occur if vehicles became stuck and had to be dug out. Drivers who were impatient to continue their journeys were disappointed at this decision, but Muthemba urged them to wait a few hours more until the earth and stones used by the two contractors were compacted. The vehicles were allowed to move at about 16.00, with a contingent of traffic police carefully overseeing the operation. The drivers and passengers trapped by the cut in the road were forced to rely on itinerant traders for food and drink during their five day ordeal, and had no option but to pay the exorbitant prices the traders charged. Thus a small bottle of mineral water sold for 50 meticais (about 1.7 US dollars).