Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia to rebuild railroad to Nacala

11 August 2006

Maputo, Mozambique, 11 Aug – Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia plan to rebuild the railway in the Nacala Development Corridor, Maputo’s Notícias newspaper reported Friday.

The executive secretary of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Tomaz Salomão of Mozambique, was cited by the paper as saying that the railway’s recovery occurs at a time when the Zambian government is preparing to connect the Mchingji-Chipata railroad line to Nacala, which is vitally important for Zambia’s commercial transactions.

The Mchinji-Chipata railroad in eastern Zambia is the main transport connection over the length of the corridor, especially between central and southern Malawi and northern Mozambique and the port of Nacala, one of the busiest in southern Africa.

Plans to repair the section have been on the agenda since 2000, when the three governments began to seek funds from investors and development agencies with a view to rebuilding the rail line.

The work is being funded by a US$29.6 million loan to the three countries by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a development agency of the United States of America. Construction of the section for Mchinji-Chipata connection will be carried out per a note of understanding recently signed by Zambia and Edlow resources.

Historically, the ports of Nacala in northern Mozambique and Beira in the center were the closest for Malawi and Zambia. The railroad line was developed as a concession from the port of Nacala to Nampula in the 1970s.

The railroad was later extended to serve the rich agricultural land in Niassa province, and also to Malawi, which had first been supplied via the Sena railroad.

As the shortest route to the sea was via the Nacala railroad, it began to take over the Malawian traffic using the Sena line.

The Nacala route was disrupted in 1984 after being destroyed by Renamo during the armed conflict, which significantly affected the basic transport situation in Mozambique.

As a result, Zambia and Malawi stopped using the railroads and began to use road transport. However, the costs were very high due to the much greater distances involved: Zambian products had to use South African ports while Malawian products used ports in Tanzania. (macauhub)