24th March 2003

Difficult to rehabilitate Sena railway line

The rehabilitation of the Sena railway line, that runs from the central port of Beira to Malawi, and to the Moatize coal mines in Tete province, is under threat because of the theft of rails and ballast.

According to the Beira daily "Diario de Mocambique", the thefts are occurring on the 20 kilometre stretch of line between Dondo and Savane, the only part of the Sena line where new rails have been laid.

The thieves are using sophisticated equipment to cut the rails, which leads railway officials to assume that this is a highly organised robbery. According to the director of the Sena Line Reconstruction Brigade, Adelino Mesquita, so far none of the thieves have been caught, and nobody knows where the stolen rails are taken.

Unless the thefts are halted, then the $18 million raised so far, to rehabilitate the first 90 kilometres of the railway (from Dondo to Muanza), are at risk.

Despite the sabotage, Mesquita remains optimistic. He said that new concrete sleepers will soon be laid along the first ten kilometres of track.

The Sena line was comprehensively sabotaged by the apartheid backed Renamo rebels in the early 1980s, and not a single train has run along it for almost two decades. The paralysis of the line is the main reason why Mozambique has been unable to export coal from Moatize to overseas markets for the past 20 years. (AIM)

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