13 February 2014

Mozambique: City Council Pledges Repairs of Key Road

Maputo — Many drivers of the privately-owned minibuses (known as “chapas”) that provide much of Maputo's passenger transport continued their strike for a second day on Wednesday, disrupting transport between central Maputo and the outlying neighbourhood of Benfica.

The drivers are protesting about the poor state of one of the main roads they use, Avenida do Trabalho, arguing that the potholes and ruts seriously damage their vehicles.

They reject the suggestion made by Maputo Municipal Council on Tuesday that they seek alternative routes, thus bypassing Avenida do Trabalho.

On Wednesday, Vidigal Rodrigues, director of infrastructures in the Municipal Council, assured the chapa drivers that the road will soon be repaired.

He said the contractor is mobilizing equipment for the job. But in the meantime, he insisted that the chapas should avoid the damaged stretch of Avenida do Trabalho.

Speaking to the daily paper “Noticias”, Rodrigues said the contractor would have equipment on the spot next week - and he warned that the road will be partially closed while the work goes ahead.

Rodrigues insisted that the Council would not fill in the potholes without first tackling the underling problem, which is that of drainage.

The drain that should serve the damaged section no longer functions properly, he said, “because it is 80 to 90 per cent silted up, and so must be replaced”.

Antonio Rodrigues, of the Association of Maputo City Road Transport Operators (ATROMAP), pointed out that the initiative for the chapa strike comes from the drivers, and not the owners.

ATROMAP does not approve of the strike, and complained that the owners are not doing enough to convince their workers to nut their buses back on the streets.

“Whenever there's a stoppage”, Rodrigues said, “we try to persuade the transporters to resume their activities, so that they don't make the users suffer. But this time, it's proving very difficult”.

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