MAPUTO� If Maputo, Mozambique’s biggest capital and biggest city and port, is to reach its ambitious target of handling 20 million tonnes of cargo a year by 2020, rising to 30 million tonnes by 2033, it is essential that more of the bulk cargoes heading for the port are moved there by rail rather than road.

This was stated at the 6th Maputo Port Conference here Wednesday by the Managing Director of the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), Osorio Lucas, who said: The next stage involves rebalancing the way in which cargo reaches the port. Although this is mostly a port for bulk cargo, about 80 per cent of the traffic for Maputo port is still moved by truck, which is not the most efficient or ecologically sound way of moving cargo.

This is imperative if the port’s targets are to be reached since there is simply not enough capacity on the roads to and from the port to move 33 million tonnes a year, he stressed.

Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita took a more optimistic view, telling the conference that the ratio between road and rail traffic was gradually shifting in favour of the rail network.

Two years ago, 82 per cent of the cargo handled by the Port of Maputo used the roads, and 18 percent was carried by rail. In 2017, this indicator improved significantly to 26 per cent of cargo using the railways, and 74 per cent using the roads. This trend should be consolidated and improved in the following financial years, he said.

Increased use of Maputo port must not be at the cost of great damage to the country’s roads, and the increased risk of traffic accidents caused by large numbers of trucks heading to and from the port, the Minister said, adding that it was the government’s vision that bulk cargo should travel by rail thus maximising the natural advantages that rail transport offers to this sort of cargo.

Mesquita told the conference that last year MPDC paid taxes totalling 1.6 billion meticais (about 191 million US dollars). In addition, MPDC paid 19.7 million USD in rent for its lease of the port. Taken together, these figures amount to six per cent of the country’s total tax revenue.