Maputo — Some transport operators in the central Mozambican province of Manica complain that they are suffering heavy losses due to the ambushes on the province's main roads by armed men, believed to be members of the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta".
When AIM visited the interprovincial bus terminal in the Manica provincial capital, Chimoio, on Monday morning, it found a sharp reduction in the number of passengers willing to risk travelling by road to Beira, Quelimane or other parts of the country.
62 year old Zeca Mariano has driven his minibus between Chimoio and Quelimane for the past six years. But the number of passengers has fallen following the ambushes, and so his income has also fallen. He doubts whether he can continue the business.
"The truth is, we're doing very badly", he told AIM. "In recent days few people have been travelling because they are afraid of the attacks which have happened in Gondola district, and near the Pungue river on the main north-south highway. Previously, two buses a day used to go to Quelimane. Now it's very difficult to fill just one".
"We, who live on the basis of this business, are the ones who are losing", said Mariano. "Our income has fallen and we have lots of bills to pay. Some vehicles were purchased on credit, and the loans have to be repaid. How can we carry on, when we're plunged into a climate of instability?"
Mateus Njinga said he has been in the transport business for 12 years. The current security situation, he said, makes it impossible to leave Chimoio for Beira before 07.00 or after 16.00.
"This complicates life, not only for us transporters, but also for the passengers, who want to reach their destinations earlier", he added.
"The government has to find a solution to this problem", stressed Njinga. "We know that Renamo can't reach any understanding with itself. There's a breakdown of trust inside the Renamo leadership. President Nyusi knew how to solve the previous conflict and so this too requires his intervention".
The Renamo attacks are holding up the development of the country, he added. "Human lives are being lost and our economy is suffering heavy losses".
Some transport operators, said Njinga, have simply decided to leave their vehicles in the parking lot until the situation returns to normal, rather than risk the destruction of their buses at the hands of Renamo gunmen.
The police claim they are working to guarantee security on all Manica roads. The head of the public relations department in the Manica Provincial Police Command, Mario Arnanca, told AIM that units of the defence and security forces are on the ground to repel attacks by the armed gangs who are ambushing vehicles on the main roads.
"We are on the ground to identify these groups and bring them to justice", he declared. "In some areas the situation is considered calm. We urge the public to collaborate, by accepting all the guidelines given by the police to avoid loss of life".