Former Maputo arms depot to become nature park

Ecological park in Malhazine to be complete by December.

Works to turn Maputo's former arms depot into a 600-hectare ecological park should be complete by December, following a recent agreement between the city and conservation authorities.

Under the deal the Maputo city council will assume overall responsibility for the park in the residential Malhazine suburb while the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) will provide expertise in the management of biodiversity.

Plans to transform the former arsenal, situated near the international airport, have been in the pipeline since 2007, when its ammunition exploded during a heatwave causing around 100 fatalities and injuring hundreds of people.

The disaster prompted authorities to move the remaining weapons, which were left over from the nation's 15-year civil war (1977-1992), to a safer location away from the city. Subsequently the Mozambican government decided to replace the arms depot with a nature reserve, and in 2015 all traces of explosives were finally removed.

Plans include reintroducing animal species that once lived in the Malhazine area, with local wildlife authorities in talks with their counterparts in South Africa and Zimbabwe.