Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Military Escort for Trucks on Beira Road
June 16, 2016

MAPUTO. — Mozambique’s army will escort trucks travelling a 270-kilometre stretch of road that passes through territory held by militias aligned with the opposition Renamo party, an industry body said.

Last week, two people were killed and 12 cargo trucks burned on National Road 7, a key artery linking Mozambique’s port of Beira to landlocked Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While the military convoys offer protection, they also double travel time and increase costs for haulers, according to Castigo Nhamane, head of the Mozambican Federation of Road Transport, or Fematro.

“A trip that lasted two days before now can last twice as long because the convoys leave during a certain period only,” Nhamane said by phone.

“We urge the political leadership to resolve this issue. Carriers are struggling to pay back bank credit contracted for business. We can’t pay the wages of our workers.”

Iron-ore producer Vale SA said two trains on the Sena rail line in the north-western Tete province were shot at last week. Two people were injured in the incident, it said in an e-mailed statement.

Renamo resumed an insurgency against the government in 2013, two decades after it ended a civil war against the country’s ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique. The latest round of conflict has left more than 300 people dead, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a project run by the University of Sussex in the UK that draws statistics from reports by the media, humanitarian agencies and other groups.

The rebel movement led by Afonso Dhlakama has said attacks will persist on civilian vehicles that are used for military logistics.

The government has said the strikes seek to destabilise the nation’s transport sector.

A joint commission including representatives of President Filipe Nyusi and Dhlakama have met in the past two weeks to prepare the terms of reference for the resumption of talks aimed at ending the conflict.

Fematro says it doesn’t have statistics on how many trucks have come under attack since the violence began in 2013, but that there has been an escalation in the number of incidents in the past few months.

“No one is going to pay for the damages, not the government nor the other party,” Nhamane said.

— Bloomberg.

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