Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi declared on Tuesday that a tarred road between the two main cities in the northern province of Niassa, Cuamba and Lichinga, was no longer a dream but is becoming a reality.
At the town of Massungulo, capital of Ngauma district, Nyusi laid the first stone in the tarring of the road, which is over 300 kilometres long. The cost of tarring the first two stretches of the road is put at 4.7 billion meticais (about 78 million US dollars, at current exchange rates).
Nyusi then addressed a rally at Metomane village, in the neighbouring district of Majune, and told his audience “The machines are already working. People said, when we promised to build this road during this government's term of office, that it was just another promise. But I promise that I will come back here for the formal delivery of the road, when it is completely tarred”. (That should be in November 2019).
The road is being co-financed by the African Development Bank (ADB) and by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The ADB is funding the stretches from Cuamba to Muita (134 kms), and from Muita to Massangulo (94 kms). JICA, and the Mozambican government, will finance the final stretch from Massangulo to Lichinga (89 kms).
No contractor has yet been hired for the Cuamba-Muita stretch. For the Muita-Massangulo stretch, costed at 2.1 billion meticais, the contractor is the China Communications Construction company Ltd. A second Chinese company, Sinohydro Corporation Ltd., has been awarded the contract for the Massangulo-Lichinga stretch, which will cost 2.6 billion meticais.
The new structure of the road has been projected, with normal maintenance activities, to carry normal cargo for 15 years.
Nyusi told the rally that the government is continuing to seek financing for other roads in the north, notably for the road between Marrupa in Niassa to Montepuez in the neighbouring province of Cabo Delgado. That would eventually link Lichinga to the Cabo Delgado provincial capital of Pemba.
The tarred road will supplement the rehabilitated railway from Lichinga to Cuamba, which lies on the main line from the port of Nacala to the Malawian border. Between them, the road and railway should make it quicker and cheaper to move goods between Niassa and the rest of the country.
Nyusi declared that his government is determined “to take Niassa province out of the isolation to which it has been condemned for so long”.
About 1,000 workers are employed on the road, and Nyusi urged them to respect the work norms and timetables established by the contractors.
“Anybody who is lazy should respectfully request to leave the company”, he said, “since there will be times when you will be obliged to work at the weekends and on public holidays, in order to conclude the job on time”.
Nyusi also urged the local population to be vigilant against any theft of equipment or of fuel. “The contractors will unload a great deal of construction material here”, he said. “Be vigilant, and if anyone is stealing, denounce them”.