Maputo — As cyclone Idai approaches the Mozambican coast the government has called on people living in Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete provinces to take cautionary measures.
Government spokesperson, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Anna Comoana, speaking to reporters at the end of the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) warned that the high winds and torrential rains associated with the cyclone could have a major impact.
The forecast is for winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour and rainfall of more than 150 millimeters in 24 hours. Severe thunderstorms are expected in the Mozambique channel.
Idai is currently classified as a category four cyclone. It is travelling across the Mozambique Channel towards the coast of Sofala. On its current course, it will make landfall near the city of Beira on Friday. The government warns that all districts in Sofala will be heavily affected, as well as most of the neighbouring province of Zambezia.
The cyclone comes on top of devastating storms in both Zambezia and Tete provinces. Visiting Tete on Monday, the Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, said that 240 kilometers of roads were now impassable and road access to the districts of Mutarara and Doa is impossible.
The storm caused severe damage to the bridge over the Rovubue river, one of the main tributaries of the Zambezi. Part of the bridge has collapsed, forcing the authorities to halt traffic for an undetermined period.
Machatine said it is premature to estimate how long repairs to the bridge would take. He pointed out that the State lacks the money for preventive maintenance for roads and bridges and blamed this on the lack of tolls. Only by implementing the principle of "user pays" will the state have the resources necessary.
Repairs to the Tete road network, not counting the Rovubue bridge will cost 980 million Meticais (about 15.8 million dollars).
In Zambezia province the damage done to the road network by flooding from 2005 to now is put at two billion Meticais. According to Machatine, in this province 1,375 kilometers of roads are impassable. Emergency work on the damaged roads in order to restore some normality to the lives of local residents would require 219 million Meticais.
Machatine stressed that this was just a stop-gap measure and the two billion meticais is needed for the definitive restoration of the Zambezia road network.