Maputo — The Mozambican government and the consortium Thai Mocambique Logistica (TML) on Friday signed an agreement extending the route of the new railway planned between Tete and Zambezia provinces.
Originally the railway was planned to run from the Moatize coal basin in Tete to a new deep water port to be built at Macuse on the Zambezia coast. The extension is for an additional 120 kilometres of track west of Moatize, to Chitima in Cahora Bassa district.
The addendum to the route was signed by Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita and by the chairperson of the executive board of Thai Mocambique Logistica, Jose Fonseca, in the locality of Supinhio, about 50 kilometres from the Zambezia provincial capital, Quelimane.
Speaking immediately after the signing ceremony, Mesquita said construction of the new railway is expected to begin in the second half of 2019, and could create 20,000 jobs. Mesquita's forecast for the start of construction is a year later than the date predicted by Ministry officials in August.
Fonseca said the consortium is anxious to start work. The delays in the take-off of the project, he said, were due to the need to achieve consensus on the key technical and administrative aspects.
With the extension to Chitima, the new railway will be 639 kilometres long. The total cost of the railway and the port at Macuse is estimated at 2.7 billion US dollars.
Coal is the main cargo expected to use the railway and the port, and the extension accommodates the interests of companies mining coal in Cahora Bassa district.
The railway will be the longest brand new railway built since Mozambique won its independence in 1975. At 900 kilometres, the line from Moatize to Nacala-a-Velha, on the northern coast, is longer, but parts of that line run along the existing northern railway, built prior to independence. The line to Macuse will be the third railway linking the coal producing areas of Tete to the Indian Ocean.
The majority shareholder in TML is the Italian Thai Development Company of Thailand, with 60 per cent. Its partners are Mozambique's publicly owned port and rail company, CFM, with 20 per cent, while the private Zambezia Development Corridor (CODIZA) holds the remaining 20 per cent.