Maputo-South Africa railway closed for six weeks

The Ressano Garcia railway line, which links Maputo port to South Africa, will be closed for at least six weeks following a serious accident on 18 February involving a South African goods train near Tenga, 40 km north-west of Maputo.

The train derailed near a bridge which was damaged in the incident, effectively closing the railway line to traffic. Mozambique’s port and rail company CFM has ordered an investigation into the accident.

The Ressano Garcia line is used to transport South African coal and iron ore to Maputo, and accounts for about 70 per cent of the total volume of the port’s cargo. Prior to its closure, the Ressano Garcia line was used by some 30 mineral trains a week to reach Maputo.

A six week interruption could have serious implications for Maputo port which risks losing business to ports such as Durban in the north-eastern region of South Africa. Some of the mineral traffic could go through neighbouring Swaziland but the Goba line is unable to handle the same amount of traffic as the Ressano Garcia line.

Between 2006 and 2009 the Ressano Garcia line underwent a $20 million rehabilitation which made train journeys faster between the South African border and the port, and facilitated larger volumes of cargo.

In May 2002 Mozambique declared three days of mourning following a rail disaster in which 192 people were killed and 167 injured when a train carrying cement from South Africa was derailed just outside Tenga on the Ressano Garcia line.

The Ressano Garcia railway is named after a Mozambican town beside the South African border.