Mozambique: Bus Rapid Transit Scheme for Maputo Revived

Maputo — The Maputo transport authorities have revived plans to establish a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which should greatly improve conditions for bus passengers in the Mozambican capital.

According to a report in Monday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", citing the Maputo Metropolitan Transport Agency, work on the BRT could begin in 2023, and the project could be operational in 2024.

A BRT scheme involves establishing bus lanes that cannot be used by any other traffic. The idea was first proposed in 2014, when a viability study was drawn up and the bus routes were presented. 198 articulated buses, each able to hold 160 passengers, would travel along the routes.

There were to be four bus terminals, 29 stations along the routes, a maintenance area and an electronic ticketing system.

The Brazilian government was to finance the project, which would be in the hands of the Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht. But Odebrecht was deeply involved in corruption, and in October 2016, the Brazilian government announced the suspension of 4.7 billion dollars worth of financing for 25 public works projects in Africa and Latin America. The investigation found that Odebrecht had paid bribes of 900,000 dollars in Mozambique.

It was suspected that Odebrecht paid this money in connection with the construction of the international airport in the northern city of Nacala, an airport that has almost no flights and no passengers.

Without the Brazilian funding, the BRT project languished, but has now been take up again by the Maputo Metropolitan Transport Agency, working with the Maputo and Matola municipalities. This time the proposed source of funding is the World Bank, which, according to the Transport Agency, is making a grant of 250 million dollars available.

The new BRT scheme is more ambitious than the 2014 project, in that the routes are not restricted to Maputo, but continue into Matola.

The technical administrator of the Metropolitan Transport Agency, Armando Bembele, told "O Pais" that, at peak times, the BRT should be able to move 10,000 passengers an hour.

"For all those living in the area covered by the BRT, the problem of transport will cease to exist", said Bembele.

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