MAPUTO– Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday handed over 200 buses to private transport operators as part of the government’s initiative to meet the demand for public transport in Mozambican cities.

Nyusi declared that, by making these buses available, he was honouring a promise made during his inauguration speech in January 2015, when he pledged to improve the transportation system so as to guarantee that citizens could travel in safe and comfortable conditions, within the cities, and on routes between provinces and districts.

The buses are from China and India, from China’s leading bus manufacturer Yutong and its Indian counterpart, Tata. They join 500 buses already in circulation, which have been delivered to private companies and municipal councils since 2015.

Despite progress made in urban passenger transport, Nyusi said he remained concerned at the large number of people who are still carried on the back of open trucks, and pledged not to rest “while part of our population is still transported in such conditions.

Improving public transport is a question of necessity, he said, since it is an indispensable service for economic vitality, social justice and efficiency in modern cities, which facilitates rapid access to workplaces, schools, hospitals and other essential components of urban life.

The 200 buses are part of a consignment of 1,000 acquired by the Ministry of Transport, intended to cover the needs for the entire five-year term of the current government.

Data presented by Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita showed that in January 2015 the demand for transport in the Greater Maputo Metropolitan Area amounted to 600,000 passengers a day. But the Maputo and Matola municipal bus companies could only carry 60,000 people a day, or just ten per cent of the need.