Mozambique: Relaunch of the bus rapid transit system for Maputo

Maputo — Maputo transport authorities have re-launched plans to establish a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which should greatly improve conditions for bus passengers in the Mozambican capital.

According to an article in Monday’s edition of the independent daily “O Pais”, citing the Maputo Metropolitan Transport Agency, work on the BRT could start in 2023, and the project could be operational in 2024.

A BRT system consists of establishing bus lanes that cannot be used by any other traffic. The idea was first proposed in 2014, when drawing up a viability study and presenting the bus lines. 198 articulated buses, each capable of holding 160 passengers, will run along the routes.

There were to be four bus stations, 29 stations along the lines, a maintenance area and an electronic ticketing system.

The Brazilian government was to finance the project, which would be in the hands of the Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht. But Odebrecht was deeply involved in corruption, and in October 2016 the Brazilian government announced the suspension of $4.7 billion in funding for 25 public works projects in Africa and Latin America. The investigation revealed that Odebrecht paid bribes of $900,000 in Mozambique.

Odebrecht was suspected of having paid the money in connection with the construction of the international airport in the northern city of Nacala, an airport that has almost no flights and no passengers.

Without Brazilian funding, the BRT project languished, but it is now taken over by the Maputo Metropolitan Transport Agency, in collaboration with the municipalities of Maputo and Matola. This time, the proposed funding source is the World Bank, which the Transport Agency says is making a $250 million grant available.

The new BRT scheme is more ambitious than the 2014 project, as the routes are not limited to Maputo, but continue to Matola.

Metropolitan Transport Agency technical administrator Armando Bembele told ‘O Pais’ that at peak times the BRT should be able to move 10,000 passengers per hour.

“For everyone who lives in the area covered by BRT, the transportation problem will cease to exist,” Bembele said.

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