Companies based in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula, who operate over a dozen buses on inter-provincial routes, have opted to cancel their routes to the south of the country because of the ambushes attributed to Renamo gunmen .
Buses from Nampula to Maputo and other parts of southern Mozambique have no choice but to use the main north-south highway (EN1). Two stretches of the highway in Sofala province have been subject to repeated Renamo ambushes – from the Save river to the small town of Muxungue, and from Nhamapadza, in Maringue district, to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi. Travel along these stretches is now by convoy, under armed escort.
Transport operators in Nampula told reporters that suspension of the routes south is for an indeterminate period, because of the enormous losses that the companies have been suffering. These are caused not only by the destruction of vehicles which fall into ambushes, but by the collapse in the number of passengers prepared to take the risks of a journey through Sofala.
Speaking at a press conference in the city, the chairperson of the Association of Nampula Road Transporters (ASTRA), Luis Vasconcelos, said the members of the association were unanimous in their decision. They had decided that the conditions no longer exist for them to drive passenger buses through the centre of the country.
The attack which left the strongest impression on the ASTRA members was that against a bus of the company Nagi Investments in Manica province on Saturday, in which the driver and one of the passengers lost their lives.
Vasconcelos took the opportunity to urge Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to accept the invitation for talks issued by President Filipe Nyusi, and to end all Renamo armed attacks.
However, there is no sign that Dhlakama is prepared to sit at the same table as Nyusi. Renamo has imposed a series of pre-conditions on any dialogue, including the appointment of foreign mediators. The mediators suggested by Renamo are the Catholic Church, the European Union and South African President Jacob Zuma.
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