Posted on September 30, 2015
Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister, Carlos Mesquita has said the German consultant who drew up a viability study on the Malawian government’s plans to turn the Shire and Zambezi rivers into a commercial waterway for the country’s imports and exports concluded that the two rivers are not navigable in their natural state, APA learns here on Saturday.State-controlled radio Mozambique says Mesquita held a meeting with his Malawian and Zambian counterparts to analyse the consultant’s report.
It would be necessary to invest $18 million in initial dredging followed by $30 million a year to guarantee maintenance dredging, and a further $50 million to clear vegetation from the banks of the two rivers, not to mention investments in port infrastructure. Mesquita said.
Radio Mozambique said the Malawian authorities were disappointed as they hoped that the report would sway Mozambique in favour of the proposed Shire-Zambezi Waterway.
Mesquita pointed out that the study concluded that the rivers can only be used for commercial shipping if they are dredged. This would be extremely expensive.
Even with this expenditure, the rivers would, according to the consultant, only be navigable for four or five months a year.
For the Mozambican government, this destroys any idea that the Shire-Zambezi Waterway could be economically viable. Furthermore the volume of traffic to and from Malawi is simply not enough to guarantee enormous investments.
How is Mozambique to commit itself to a project of this nature, where the volume of merchandise guaranteed for 2015/2016 is just 250,000 tonnes a year? Mesquita asked.
For Mozambique, resources should be used in a coherent and sustainable fashion, and Mesquita suggested that Malawi should control its emotions.
Mesquita pointed out that Mozambique main ports were built to allow landlocked countries such as Malawi access to the sea. Railways run from Malawi to the ports of Beira and Nacala.