The volume of cargo handled by the Limpopo railway line could reach 700,000 tonnes by the end of this year, according to projections by Mozambique’s publicly-owned rail and port company, CFM. These projections are based on current trends in the Zimbabwean economy, which show signs of improvement, coupled with growing regional interest in Maputo port as an import and export route.
Rebuilt in 2004 after the destruction caused by floods in 2000, the Limpopo line has been operating far below capacity due to weak demand from Zimbabwe and other countries in the region. Currently, the line is capable of handling two million tonnes of cargo annually with trains moving at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.
According to the Chairman of the CFM Board, Rosario Mualeia, the company needs to carry out better routine maintenance on the line. The Limpopo line is 522 kilometres long, running from Maputo port to Chicualacuala district, in the southern province of Gaza. It is beginning to attract more customers from neighbouring Zimbabwe and other countries in the region, which see it as a viable and cheap alternative access route for international trade.
Mualeia told Radio Mozambique that “this year we want to invest in maintenance in order to reach profitable cargo volumes in this important line. Indeed, we already have customers who inform us that they want to ferry 500,000 tonnes of ferrochrome along the line. Certainly, this is a positive development since the current demand is below capacity”.
Last week, Mualeia visited the Limpopo railway line accompanied by technical staff and managers to assess the state of the line. “The truth is that we expected to find things in a worse condition since the line is seldom used. We have identified the areas where intervention is required, and I can guarantee that the line is fit to meet the demands of both the domestic and international markets, even taking into account growth projections for the near future”, he said.
Mualeia conceded that CFM if battling with a severe shortage of locomotives and wagons. The company has ordered 230 new wagons, while locomotives are being repaired in the company’s workshops. According to Mualeia, under ideal conditions, CFM should have at least 1,500 wagons.(source: AIM)