The ferry service across the Bay of Maputo has become even more of a headache for those who need to travel between central Maputo and the outlying district of Katembe, because the jetty at the Maputo end has become unsafe and can no longer be used.
This would not have mattered if the suspension bridge across the Bay had been ready in December 2017, as originally planned. But the date for opening the bridge has been repeatedly postponed, and traffic is now not expected to start flowing across it until a date in October yet to be announced.
The current closure of the jetty is the second inside a year. There was a 15 day closure for repairs in November-December 2017. At the time, Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita said the repairs were temporary and that, after the opening of the Maputo-Katembe bridge, an entirely new jetty would be built.
Nine months later, the authorities have been obliged to close the jetty again. Film of the jetty shot by the independent television station STV showed that it is in a shocking condition, and could collapse under the weight of vehicles at any moment.
The company that made the jetty, Cometal, says it warned the authorities of its poor condition over nine years, and that the last major rehabilitation occurred 23 years ago.
Cometal technician Pedro Muianga told STV that cars that used the ferry service “were driving on top of imminent danger, and that’s the problem. This whole structure is rotten, after so many years of operation”.
The state-owned company Transmaritima, which runs the ferry service, said on Tuesday that it cannot give any date for re-opening the jetty.
So the Maputo end of the ferry service has been transferred temporarily to the Maputo fishing port. This is highly disruptive for users of the service, since from the fishing port it is only possible to make the crossing to Katembe at high tide.