Maputo — Maputo, 26 Dec (AIM) - The number of bus companies operating the route from Maputo to Beira and vice versa has fallen sharply since the start of armed attacks on the main north-south road by gunmen of the former rebel movement Renamo, reports Thursday's issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
Attacks began in June on the 100 kilometre stretch of the main road between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue. For anyone wishing to travel between Maputo and Beira, there is no overland alternative to this road.
Not only do the bus companies fear for the lives of their staff, and the possibility that their vehicles might be damaged or destroyed - they have also noticed a decline in the number of passengers prepared to risk the journey.
One fare collector, Joao Alfredo, told the paper that his employer has withdrawn one of his new buses from the Maputo-Beira route, fearing that it might come under attack. “He fears that, if this happens, no-one will take responsibility for the damage, and so he thought it better just to park it”, said Afredo.
Another fare collector, Amandio Vilaculos, whose bus ran from Beira to Vilankulo, in Inhambane province, said the number of passengers has dropped since the start of the attacks in the Muxungue area.
“We had lots of buses, but since the clashes began in Muxungue, our employers reduced the number of bus journeys, because there's no profit to be made in travelling with just a handful of passengers”, he said. “There aren't many buses going to Beira from Vilankulo
and Maxixe (also in Inhambane), because the passengers are afraid, and we can't run long distance buses with so few passengers”.
Camilo Afonso, another fare collector on the Maputo-Beira route, said whenever there are reports of attacks the number of passengers falls considerably, and more bus owners leave their vehicles in their garages.
“Since the attacks began in Muxungue, passengers ask us, before buying their tickets, whether the bus will really go or not”, said Afonso. “Whenever there is news of an attack, our employers prefer not to let the bus leave, for fear that it will be destroyed”.
“These attacks are ruining our business, because nowadays we don't have many passengers”, he added.