Maputo — As the flood on the river Pungue worsens, the Mozambican authorities have partially closed the highway from Beira to Zimbabwe.
On Friday afternoon, the National Roads Administration (ANE) banned light vehicles from using the stretch of the road between Mutua and Tica (about 80 kilometres west of Beira). By then the waters of the Pungue were covering the surface of the road to a depth of 20 centimetres.
For the time being, four wheel drive vehicles and trucks can continue to use the road.
By midday Friday the Pingue was measured at 8.15 metres at the Mafambisse sugar plantation. Flood alert level at Mafambisse is just six metres. The flood is blamed on large amounts of water sweeping down the Pungue valley from Zimbabwe. The main road is now completely under water on the entire stretch from the water treatment station at Mutua to the bridge over the Pungue at Mafambisse
Although the ban on using the road is far from total, the ANE has warned all motoristS to take great care when driving along the flooded stretch. A joint team from ANE and the Central Regional Water Board (ARA-Centro) visited the critical section of the road on Friday, and found an alarming situation, with long queues forming of vehicles going to or coming from Zimbabwe and other landlocked countries such as Malawi and Zambia.
ARA-Centro guarantees that, if it becomes necessary to close the road altogether, vehicles will be carried across the flooded area by train, between the stations of Tica and Dondo, as has been done during previous Pungue floods. The rail bridge across the Pungue is well above the water, and is in no danger of being overwhelmed.