Maputo — A train loaded with a thousand tonnes of fertiliser left the port of Beira in central Mozambique on Thursday afternoon at the beginning of a ten day journey to the Zambian capital city Lusaka.
According to the daily newspaper “Noticias”, the train will travel along the 317 kilometre Machipanda railway line to Mutare in Zimbabwe. It will then continue on to Zambia.
The 25 wagon train is carrying the first consignment from a shipment of 10,000 tonnes that has been offloaded at the port.
On its return, the train will carry copper for export through Beira.
This is the first time that the one thousand kilometre route has been used by Zambia Railways since the 1980's when the war of destabilisation led to the Machipanda railway becoming impassable.
At a ceremony in Beira marking the occasion, Zambia Railways' Christopher Musonda said that the relaunching of the freight service represents a great gain for the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The governor of Sofala province, Felix Paulo, stressed that the reintroduction of the freight service was one of the actions planned by the provincial government to reduce traffic along the EN6 highway from Beira to Machipanda.
He added that the volume of traffic on the two lines that make up the Beira rail system increased in September to 2,883,900 tonnes. This represents a 32 per cent increase on the same period last year.
The Beira rail system consists of the Machipanda line and the Sena line from Beira to the Moatize coal mines, with a spur to Malawi.