26 February 2013

Mozambique: CFM Wants Ressano Garcia Line Reopened in Three Weeks

Maputo — Mozambique’s port and rail company, CFM, believes that rail traffic along the Ressano Garcia line, between the port of Maputo and South Africa, can be restored within three weeks and not the six weeks initially forecast, reports Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

Traffic was interrupted a week ago in the region of Tenga, when a goods train from South Africa derailed near a bridge. The accident weakened the structure of the bridge making it impossible for trains to use the line.

The managing director of CFM’s southern region, Antonio Bie, said that a team from the CFM Engineering Division held a meeting on Monday with the contractor working on the line. The contractor suggested a deadline of five and a half weeks to repair the line – but CFM argued that the line can be reopened in three weeks.

“Our desire is that the work be done in three weeks”, Bie told the paper. The contractor should concentrate on the essential aspects so that trains could run again, while secondary repairs could be left until afterwards.

There would be a “provisional reconstruction” of the damaged bridge, allowing trains to cross, and a definitive rebuilding later.

Before the accident the Ressano Garcia line carried seven goods trains and two passenger trains a day. Every month there were 30 trainloads of minerals (coal and iron ore) from South Africa to Maputo port.

According to Barbara Mommen, executive director of the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI), the Swazi rail company has offered to take some of the goods that would normally use the Ressano Garcia line. This means that South African freight would go through Swaziland and take the line from Goba, on the Swaziland/Mozambique border, to Maputo.

“We know there are companies who have approached Swazi Railways”, Mommen said. “But we don’t yet know how much the Goba line can carry. We think it will make a good contribution to minimising the losses from the interruption of the Ressano Garcia line”.

Contacted by “Noticias”, Lizzie Mbokane, the communications manager of Swazi Railways, confirmed that her company was willing to take cargo that would otherwise have gone through Ressano Garcia, but gave no further details.

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