Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday inaugurated the rebuilt highway from the central port of Beira to the Zimbabwean border, a distance of 287 kilometres.
Budgeted at 410 million US dollars, financed by the Exim Bank of China and by the Mozambican government, the work on the road began in April 2015, and should have finished on 31 March 2018. But lack of funds to resettle households and move shops in the area of Inchope, where the road intersects with the main north-south highway (EN1), led to a delay of over a year.
In March 2019, cyclone Idai struck Sofala and Manica provinces, and damaged 10 kilometres of the road in Nhamatanda district, forcing further delays.
The Thursday ceremony took place at Inchope, where there is now a flyover, carrying EN1 over the Beira-Zimbabwe road, rather than a simple junction.
The road has been widened. Previously it was eight metres wide - after the rebuilding the width varies between 10 and 23 metres. A second bridge has been built over the Pungue river, and the road also has four tollgates, a control centre checking the weight of trucks, and overhead footbridges to allow pedestrians to cross the road safely.
Addressing the ceremony, Nyusi said the road should stimulate regional trade, making a significant social and economic impact on Mozambique and other countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The transport corridors leading to the Mozambican ports confer enormous comparative advantages on Mozambique, he added.
Prior to the rebuilding, Nyusi said, the road was narrow and in a degraded state, which "limited the flow of people and goods, reducing the economic performance of this region of the country in particular, and of Mozambique in general".
The inauguration of the rebuilt road, he continued, was an added value for international trade, and showed the commitment of the Mozambican government to facilitating the free trade expressed in regional and international treaties.
The current state of the road, he declared, "permits better mobility of people and goods, and reduces costs and travelling time".
The time taken to drive from Beira to Machipanda, on the Zimbabwean border, has fallen from seven to four hours. "Safety has improved as has the comfort of the users", said Nyusi. "The risk of breakdowns, assaults and thefts has been reduced".
Manica province, he added, will now find it easier to export its produce through the port of Beira, without the previous constraints in terms of access.
Nyusi urged motorists to respect the new road. "The road should be used with great responsibility, because it will stimulate progress", he said. "We don't want it to become a corridor of death due to traffic accidents".