Mozambique: Vaquina Speaks of Rail and Port Logistal Challenges

Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina declared on Wednesday, in the central city of Beira, that the government is committed to adopting policies to develop the rail and port sector in order to transform the country into a true logistical platform.

Speaking at the opening of the seventh Indian Ocean Ports and Logistics Conference, Vaquina outlined the various projects under way to increase the logistical capacity of the Mozambican rail and port systems.

In the southern system, he said, not only is the capacity of Maputo port being upgraded, but a new port complex will be built at Techobanine, in the southernmost district of Matutuine.

"The Techobanine Port Complex", said Vaquina, "envisages the construction from scratch of a deep water port to handle very large ships, which will complement the port of Maputo, a railway line linking Techobanine to Botswana, via Chicualacuala (in the southern Mozambican province of Gaza) and Zimbabwe, and an industrial complex".

The new deep water port, he said, could handle 100 million tonnes of cargo a year. It could become a strategic regional fuel reserve, and would be ideal for exporting minerals from countries such as Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe".

Vaquina said that Techobanine port will be ready to begin operations in 2015. It will cost seven billion US dollars which the Mozambican and Botswanan governments are to mobilise

Vaquina also stressed the rail and port projects in central and northern Mozambique, aimed at solving the logistical problems involved in exporting minerals, particularly coal, and later natural gas.

Currently, exports from the Moatize coal basin depend on the Sena railway from Moatize to Beira.

The line has been out of operation since 10 February because flooding washed away ballast and earthworks in Mutarara district, Tete province. Several plans have been floated for new railways, and new ports, that will be required if the government is to fulfill its dream of exporting 50 million tonnes of coal a year by 2020.

The gas discoveries in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of Cabo Delgado provinces, indicate reserves of at least 150 trillion cubic feet. Exporting the gas, in the shape of liquefied petroleum gas (LNG), will require a custom-built port on the northern coast of Cabo Delgado.

"We are aware that many challenges lie ahead in order to improve the logistical conditions in Mozambique", said Vaquina.

"However, we would like to assure you that we will work on each challenge with determination until we find the most adequate solution".

Despite its name, the conference is bringing together senior figures from the rail and port sector of many parts of the world, and not just the Indian Ocean. Among the countries represented are South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, Malaysia, Hong Kong, France, Britain and Germany.

The meeting is looking into the best paths for intermodal transport, and logistical solutions for the regional Development Corridors and international maritime flows.

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