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Protection for Sena transport

It appears that Vale’s coal trains on the Sena line to the Port of Beira did not run between late July and November because of attacks by Renamo fighters, suggesting that the situation was much worse than previously admitted.

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A new security agreement on protecting the trains has now been reached, allowing coal transport to resume. Renamo guerrillas began attacking trains on the west-east line and trucks on the north-south highway last year, prompting the introduction of a convoy system on the highway.There were further attacks on coal trains in May, June and July, the last of which left railway workers injured. This appears to have been the catalyst for the suspension of services. However, Mozambique’s state-owned transport utility Empresa Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) has now agreed to provide security on the line, allowing Vale to resume coal transport to Beira.

 

The Brazilian firm expects to double its production capacity on Moatize to 22 Mtpa within two years, while other coal projects in the region are also coming on stream, so it is vital that transport routes are secured. The Sena Railway now has annual handling capacity of 20 Mt, up from 6.5 Mtpa at the start of the year. Trains taking coal from the area to the Port of Nacala were attacked at least twice in October, so increased security may also be required.


Northern and Central Mozambique largely comprises remote areas with poor transport links, where it is easy for rebel fighters to hide. Renamo seems to have resorted to violent action because of its lack of electoral success, and the economic bounty on offer in the form of expected coal and gas export revenues. The group officially laid down its arms at the end of the Mozambique civil war in 1992.

Another coal province in northern Mozambique could be opened up following the reopening of the 262 km Cuamba-Lichinga railway, which connects coal reserves in Niassa Province via a spur line to the Northern Rail Corridor, which runs to Nacala. Services on the line were very poor, even prior to its closure in 2010, as trains took an incredible three days to run from one end to the other. (Also see feature, p9-10).

 

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