Maputo — Emergency dredging of the access channel and manoeuvring basins at the central Mozambican port of Beira, which began six months ago, will end this week, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
Budgeted at 24.9 million euros (30.1 million US dollars), the work is in the hands of the Dutch company Van Oord, assisted by the publicly owned Mozambican Dredging Company (EMODRAGA).
The main goal of the dredging is to broaden the width of the 27 kilometre long Beira access channel from 135 to 25 metres. The depth of the channel is now fixed at eight metres for the straight stretches, and at 9.2 metres on the stretch known as the Macuti curve.
According to Augusto Abudo, the executive director of the central division of the Mozambican ports and rail company (CFM-Centro), the dredging will allow ships of up to 60,000 tonnes to enter the port at any time of day or night. Previously only ships of up to 33,000 tonnes could dock at Beira.
Abudo believed this will significantly increase the amount of cargo handled by Beira, particularly cargo to and from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and even the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This is the second time in less than a decade that the port has undergone emergency dredging. The first was in 2010-2011 and cost 30.1 million euros.
Abudo said that, later this year, the port will be subject to maintenance dredging, which will last for 18 months.
Beira port requires regular dredging largely because of the large amounts of silt that the Pungue river deposits in the harbour.