Zimbabwe and Mozambique have agreed to refurbish and extend the 10km railway line that stretches from Machipanda to Mutare within the next three months.
Both Transport Ministers yesterday confirmed the development during a tour of the facing Forbes and Machipanda border posts.
On Wednesday, Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister Mr Mateus Magala arrived in the country to hold bilateral meetings on cooperation in transport and transport infrastructure with Zimbabwean Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona.
His visit comes after President Mnangagwa joined his Mozambican counterpart President Filipe Nyusi in witnessing the commissioning of the rehabilitated US$200 million Beira-Machipanda railway line last November.
Speaking at the commissioning of the railway line in Manica, Mozambique, President Mnangagwa said not only will the rehabilitated 318-kilometre railway line reduce transport costs, but it will also ease congestion at Forbes Border Post in Mutare.
After the two ministers toured Forbes and Machipanda Border Posts yesterday, Minister Magala said: “We had an opportunity to discuss and agree on major issues that we need to address in order to have efficient, modern and progressive infrastructure that facilitate trade and integration of our countries. We basically want to open borderless countries because Zimbabwe and Mozambique have unique history.
“I am very happy that we managed to agree on what we need to do and stressed the urgency of those actions. One of them is that in next three months we want to see the railway line from Machipanda to Mutare operational at highest standards. So we commit to do that. The second thing is that we want to see the train from Beira to Harare and beyond also happening in this shortest time.
So if we work the way we are working now, that can happen in the next two years, three years maximum, if not in two years but I will say in two years, we will have everything done,” he said.
He said the two Governments needed to collaborate with many people, institutions, the private sector and development agents.”
There was now need to bring in others for the US$17 million work the double border post would need.
Minister Mhona also said during the meetings, they shared a number of issues that were before them, including the railway line issue.
“I am happy that the essence of this trip was basically to exchange notes and as a follow-up to our meeting that we had with our principles, His Excellency Cde Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the great leader of Zimbabwe and the great leader of Mozambique Felipe Nyusi who then directed that we must move with speed and meet and precisely within two months regardless of the holidays that we had, we are here working, implementing what has been directed.
“And I am happy that we shared on a number of issues that were before us and as you know, the railway line which is very topical, our roads are being damaged each and everyday and we need to move cargo from the roads to the rail. And I am happy that the dear brother here has done tremendously well in rehabilitating the rail from Beira and now the missing link is the 10km into Mutare.”
The two countries need mitigatory measures in terms of decongesting their border posts.
“You could witness a 30km stretch of trucks and again we then collaborated, it was just a phone call away where I spoke to him to say we need to implement 24/7 at our border posts, Forbes-Machipanda and this is what we have done and as from Monday we were hearing statistics which is quite pleasing that the incremental value in terms of business has also been enhanced,” he said.
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“So we are saying basically this is what is in tandem with the Second Republic, being championed by His Excellency Cde Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa that we must promote ease of doing business. And we are standing here in Mozambique and also we have a bottleneck of this bridge (at the border) that you are seeing and we have agreed that in the short-term we need to create another parallel bridge to the existing one so that we enhance trafficability of our trucks.
“At the end of the day as we then look at the bigger picture of One-Stop border post, we will have mitigated the bottleneck that we are witnessing. So I am happy that these are initiatives that we are not just talking about, we are implementing and you shall see great exploits as we have started working together,” Minister Mhona said.
The tour was attended by senior officials from both countries.