Metrorail for Maputo?

A Gautrain car lifted into place, South Africa (source:

An Italian company has agreed to put up as much as $14 million just to study the possibility of building an above-ground metro line between Maputo and its smaller neighbor, Matola. If this pans out, Mozambique would become the second country south of the Sahara with such a system. (South Africa is finishing the first, though I’m not sure it counts.)  And this would be a great place to do it. The ten miles or so that separate the cities can take as much as two hours depending on traffic, and that’s when you can catch a minibus.

Yeah, I know. Not holding my breath. But how about bikes?

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9 Responses to Metrorail for Maputo?

  1. Interesting development, though projects like these usually come and go with very little fanfare. Mozambicans have become quite skeptical over the years.

    In contrast to what most people think, I don’t believe the lack of transportation is the real issue. I think what we have is a serious problem with the city just not being big enough for everyone. The city hasn’t really expanded to accommodate service based organizations which daily are creeping into residential areas for office space and creating havoc (nightclubs in quiet, leafy suburbs among other things!).

    In a nutshell, acquiring more buses so that more people can be brought in and out of a city that was designed to handle a 1960s minority population just won’t work. The result is long waits during peak hours and general discomfort for all such as uncollected trash and higher levels of population. Maputo has already become noticeably warmer during the summers – which was not so 15 years ago.

    • David Morton says:

      It’s a great question, Adarsh: what if Maputo is forever doomed to congestion, based on its initial configuration?

      Here’s another, unrelated question: Why don’t cars use the other route to Maputo, the one that takes you past Machava hospital?

      And a third, which I’ve already asked: Why don’t more people bike? I just got a bike a few hours ago, so it’s been on my mind.

  2. Jane Braziunas says:

    …and to think when I was working in Maputo in the late ’70s as a “cooperante,” there were no bicycles. One either walked, caught a ride to work in the very few vans – or even fewer cars. I also never saw a wheelchair for those who had to crawl on all fours. The buses, also few, were for long distances, I believe – waiting for one looked like an all-day affair, and they all listed under heavy weight of passengers and animals.

  3. We rode our bicycles all over Beira in the early 1980s – with a child seat on mine for our 3 year old daughter. But is was not a common sight, we gathered crowds wherever we went! It was an excellent method of transport, even with only the most minimal support for repairs and spare parts. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy ( once had some bike-related projects in Mozambique, though that was a long time ago; they are still in South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

  4. Benedito Machava says:

    Very interesting debate, but few notes for a complex issue – Maputo and the transport system. I agree with Adarsh that the problem is not the lake of transport, but the desing of the city of Maputo and the way it´s growing up. This city has been growing horizontally and I can assume that today one may no longer be abble to see where it begins and where it ends. Maputo-Matola-Marracuene are now one “urban” area, being Maputo the centre of everything. The main reazon why people come to Maputo is because almost all jobs, all public services, schools (secondary and universities), hospitals, shops and the most profitable informal markets are located in the centre of the city. There’s been no effort of decentralizing these factors of attraction and expand them in the neigborhoods of Maputo. The Metro is wellcome (though I´m not sure it´s coming for real), but I doubt it will bring the solution. Maybe if it´s going to be a net of metro trains linking the city centre and the main bairros of Maputo and Matola…

    Now, bikes? Hummm…I´m particularly a fan of bikes and I´ve been using a bike for quite awile. But I have to face all kind of dangers in Maputo streets, for they weren´t conceived for bike riders and drivers usually don´t respect bikes. If everyone was to use bikes in Maputo the rates of accidents and deaths in the streets would be higher…

  5. Pingback: Urban rail in Africa: Whether “freedom trains” will solve Zimbabwe’s traffic jam problems, more attention should be paid to what happens when you board at A and get off at B. And don’t forget the bike! « Steppes in Sync

  6. Pingback: Urban rail in Africa: Whether “freedom trains” will solve Zimbabwe’s traffic jam problems, more attention should be paid to what happens when you board at A and get off at B. And don’t forget the bike! | Steppes in Sync

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