Trans African Concessions (TRAC), the South African company which operates the Maputo-South Africa motorway, has admitted that it does not possess the equipment required to deal with major traffic accidents on the highway and does not intend to purchase it.

Thus, in the event of serious accidents, TRAC is dependent on hiring equipment to clear the road. During the week of Oct 9 to 16, there were three accidents on the motorway involving trucks, one of which blocked the motorway. In this case, TRAC had to pay 800,000 meticais (about 10,390 US dollars, at current exchange rates) to hire a crane to remove the damaged vehicles.

The latest issue of the weekly newspaper Domingo, quotes Fenias Mazive, the manager of the TRAC Maintenance Centre, as saying that TRAC has no crane, tanker truck or trailer of its own, and has no intention of buying any. Mazive regards such expenditure as unnecessary.

TRAC has basic equipment such as traffic cones, luminous signs, emergency cars, and kits of products to disinfect the road in the event of spills of fuel, oils or toxic chemicals.

Mazive adds that TRAC has a list of contacts of service providers which own the equipment it may need. For motorists using the road, this is of little comfort since equipment hired from these providers may take hours to arrive.

The most serious recent accident occurred on Oct 11, when a truck laden with sugar caught fire, because of a fault in one of the rear axles. By the time the driver realized his vehicle was ablaze, it was too late to use the fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

When the service providers called on by TRAC arrived, the truck was totally burnt out. In the meantime, local people raided the burning truck, using sacks, buckets or anything else that came to hand to steal the sugar.

On Oct 12, another sugar truck suffered an accident on the road in the city of Matola, and it too was looted. The following day, a pick up truck carrying chickens overturned in Matola.