Mozambique injects US$30m for rail rehabilitation works to benefit Malawi

By Duncan Mlanjira

Mozambique has announced that it has invested US$30 million to its public-owned ports and railway company (CFM) to carry out rehabilitation works of its rail network that connects with Malawi.

This comes through the bilateral talks Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi had with President Lazarus Chakwera in Tête last month when the Malawi leader visited that country.

Nyusi welcoming Chakwera in Mozambique last

According to Maputo daily paper, the Noticias, the rehabilitation involves the Dona Ana-Vila Nova da Fronteira railroad network in the central province of Tete, which will re-establish the rail connection with Malawi.

Managing director of the CFM central division, Augusto Abudo is quoted by the paper as saying the US$30 million will be disbursed by the company and the groundwork for the project, meant to end in September 2021, is already underway.

Sad state of Limbe-Makhanga rail now under

Abudo told the paper that the first phase, whose works has already begun on the Malawian side, consists of clearing the bush along the rail route.

The paper says the branch line is 115 kilometres long, of which 44 kilometres are on the Mozambican side between Dona Ana and Vila Nova da Fronteira and the remaining 71 kilometres on the stretch from Vila Nova da Fronteira to Bangula, Nsanje in Malawi.

The current situation of Limbe-Makhanga rail

When operational, the railway will connect Malawi to the central Mozambican port of Beira.

“When the line is working, cargo to and from Malawi will be ferried along the Sena Rail line to the Port of Beira,” Abudo is quoted as saying, stressing that the line will bring great benefits not only to CFM but also to the two countries through jobs and related businesses it will create.

The rail connection between the two countries was interrupted in the 1980s at the height of Mozambique’s civil war that destabilised the country.

Mia (left) accompanied Chakwera to Mozambique

The official signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) — after the two leaders met — was done in Beira by Mozambique’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Janfar Abdulai and Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Sidik Mia.

Mia told the media after the MoU that the line would open a new page in Malawi’s economic recovery as currently she imports more than 48 million tons of diverse cargo a year via Beira and Nacala ports in Sofala and Nampula provinces, respectively.

After their bilateral talks, Chakwera and Nyusi highlighted the need to maintain political and diplomatic consultations aiming at finding lasting solutions on issues affecting the two countries.

Important rail transportation

In a joint communiqué, the two Presidents said they agreed to work together in trying to create additional infrastructure along the development corridors with the aim of improving mobility of people and goods by prioritizing Malawi connection to the Sena rail line through Vila Nova de Fronteira de Marka.

Nyusi had said his government would supply energy to Malawi through the already existing projects such as the construction works for the 400KV electricity transmission line for Mozambique and Malawi interconnection connecting Matambo Substation in Tete Mozambique and Phombeya in Malawi.

Power infrastructure at Phombeya in Balaka

Nyusi also took Chakwera to Cahora Bassa hydro power dam for him to appreciated a Malawi–Mozambique transmission line that is being constructed under the Malawi-Mozambique interconnection project.

There is a new international railway line that transports coal mined at Moatize in Mozambique and passes into Malawi through Mwanza, Balaka, Machinga all the way to the border where trains continue to offload the coal at Nacala, back in Mozambique.

Chakwera also visited Tanzania and with President John Magufuli agreed to establish one-stop border posts to facilitate movement of people and services much faster, thereby increasing revenue collection.

Chakwera with Magufuli

Another visit was to Harare for bilateral talks with Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Over five million Malawians are living in Zimbabwe and the country declared Chichewa as their fourth official language.

Last week, Chakwera was in South Africa where he agreed with President Cyril Ramaphosa to bring the two country’s relations to higher levels of cooperation through bilateral trade agreements to mutually benefit the people of the two countries.

President Chakwera and Ramaphosa