Transmaritama, Mozambique’s State-owned shipping and ferry company, has launched a public tender to find a partner to develop cabotage along the Mozambican coast.

The government is planning to expand coastal trade by foreign and national registered ships to reduce congestion along the country’s highways and to lower transportation costs.

Currently, Transmaritima only provides ferry services for passengers and their belongings. According to the daily newspaper, Noticias, a source in Transmaritima said the tender is to seek a private operator with the financial capacity to develop, operate, manage, and maintain the new services.

The tender was launched just days after the Mozambican government approved a decree to encourage the expansion of cabotage.

In early August, Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita explained that through the decree, foreign ships registered in Mozambique would receive the same treatment and arrangements offered to those sailing under the national flag.

According to Mesquita, “this will create the conditions for the revitalisation of maritime cabotage in Mozambique”.

Under the decree, a series of regulatory instruments will be implemented which will guarantee priority berthing and reduced port tariffs. There will also be a reduction in the fees charged by the National Maritime Institute (INAMAR) and the National Institute of Hydrography and Navigation (INAHINA). A further measure will be the simplification of customs procedures.

The decree was the formalisation of agreements reached in June between the Ministry of Transport and Communications and stakeholders.

On 22 June, Mesquita signed four memoranda of understanding with concessionaires of the ports of Maputo, Beira, Nacala and Quelimane. Under the agreements, port charges will be reduced by 60 per cent in Beira and 50 per cent in Maputo, Nacala, Pemba, and Quelimane. It was also agreed that there be a reduction of 40 per cent in the rates charged to cabotage operators by INAMAR and a decrease in navigation fees charged by INAHINA.