Maputo port on skeleton staff, Mozambicans head home as South Africa locks down 

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The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) is sending staff home and renegotiating supplier contracts to cut costs, as the lockdown that started last night in neighbouring South Africa jeopardises up to 70% of the port’s traffic.

Around 70% of the Port of Maputo’s cargo is transit, mostly from South Africa, so the prohibition on all but essential goods crossing the border means its “activities will be considerably impacted,” the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) said in a statement. MPDC is therefore placing some staff on annual leave and having others work from home, while maintaining minimum preventive maintenance of equipment and infrastructure. It is also deferring any new investments in infrastructure or equipment, and negotiating adjustments to supplier contracts.

Glencore, a major miner in South Africa which uses Maputo port, is one company that said its ferroalloy operations in South Africa would transition to care and maintenance from Thursday, 26 March, in accordance with guidance received from the South African authorities.

MPDC commercial director Neusa Saranga told Zitamar on Friday morning that the company was still trying to confirm whether cargo will be able to move by rail from South Africa to Maputo during the lockdown.

Mozambicans rush home 

The Ressano Garcia border crossing between South Africa and Mozambique saw a rush of Mozambicans heading home yesterday, as the South African lockdown meant the border closed to travellers at midnight on Thursday, for at least 21 days. The majority of those crossing were mine workers, Mozambican migration service spokesperson Celestino Matsinhe told a press conference yesterday morning.

Matsinhe said the migration service had yet to receive confirmation that goods lorries would still be able to cross the border, but said “experience shows that lorries transporting goods receive special treatment” — pointing to Zimbabwe which closed its borders on 24 March but continued to allow lorries and their drivers to cross.

The South African lockdown has also caused Mozambique’s state airline, LAM, to suspend flights to the country.

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