Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday expressed concern at the frequent thefts suffered by goods trains in the region of Entre-Lagos, on the border between Mozambique and Malawi.
Entre-Lagos is in Mecanhelas district, in the northernmost province of Niassa. The goods trains concerned are travelling between the port of Nacala and Malawi.
Speaking at a rally in the Chiuta administrative post in Mecanhelas, on the final day of a working visit to Niassa, Nyusi warned that the thefts “cannot continue. The train is only robbed when it approaches Entre-Lagos. There are businesses who are threatening that they will stop using the railway because of the thefts here in Mecanhelas”
He urged the Mecanhelas population to redouble their vigilance and identify the thieves. If the thefts continue, he said, “then the only trains that will pass through here will be carrying coal, since that has not yet been subject to theft”.
As for relations with Malawi, Nyusi called for a policy of good neighbourliness. “Many of you make your living on the border with Malawi”, he said. “But you must take pride in being Mozambicans who cause no harm to anybody”.
Mecanhelas, like many other parts of Niassa, produces a surplus of maize, much of which farmers then sell in Malawi. He promised his audience that the government is reorganizing agricultural marketing so that grain surpluses can be purchased in Mozambique. He advised Mecanhelas peasants “you must always hold back sufficient grain for your own food needs and as seed. For you never know how the next agricultural season will behave”.
People at the rally asked Nyusi for better roads between Chiuta, the Mecanhelas district capital, Insaca, and the nearest large city, Cuamba. The chiuta “regulo” (chief), Carlos Messias, said that as soon as the rainy season begins, the roads between Chiuta, Insaca and Cuamba become impassable, causing logistical headaches for many households.
Messias also called for a secondary school in Chiuta, since young people in the area have virtually nothing to do after completing primary education, and he believed this increased the number of child marriages.
Messias suggested that initially an extra room could be added to the existing primary school, in which secondary education would be taught. Nyusi was receptive to this idea, and it would show whether or not an entire new secondary school in the area would be viable.
As for Niassa roads, the President said the government is working so that development is no longer held up by poor roads, and as an example he cited the tarring of the road between Cuamba and the provincial capital, Lichinga, which began on Tuesday.