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Maputo, 24 Jan (AIM) – Traffic has resumed along Mozambique’s main
north-south highway at 3rd February village, about 100 kilometres north of
Maputo, where a flood on the Incomati river had washed away part of the road
on Saturday.

Speaking on Tuesday morning on Radio Mozambique, the General Director of the
National Roads Administration (ANE), Cecilio Grachane, declared “I want to
confirm the reopening of the main road to traffic. The first vehicles have
gone through. About 50 vehicles passed when the work was complete, and all
the people who were stranded have been evacuated”.

“Now some finishing work has to be done, but there are no restrictions on
traffic”, said Grachane.

Repairing the gap in the road took a much shorter time than initially
predicted. Grachane’s earlier estimate had been that the road would not be
reopened until Wednesday or Thursday.

The Incomati flood waters had opened a crater about 60 metres long and three
metres deep. The ANE mobilized about 30 trucks to ferry large rocks to 3rd
February to fill in the crater.

The work of the ANE brigades was helped by the sharp drop in the level of
the flood waters on Monday. Some people took the risk of wading across the
gap in the road rather than waiting for the repairs to be completed.

But further north, in Gaza province, there is a new danger that thee main
road will be cut. Last week’s torrential rains opened a large crater at the
verge of a culvert, in the town of Macia, which is threatening to swallow
the road.

The administrator of Bilene-Macia district, Sara Guambe, warned that unless
urgent measures are taken the situation could deteriorate, leading to a new
break in the north-south highway.

Guambe said the ANE has been notified. ANE technical staff are in Macia and
have confirmed that “the situation is critical”.

“Now we’ve got problems in Macia”, Grachane told Radio Mozambique. “Once
we’ve solved the problem of 3rd February, which cut access to Maputo, we
shall travel to other points where ANE intervention is needed”.

There are further problems in Gaza, in the Limpopo Valley caused by
increased discharges from the Massingir dam on the Elephants river, the
largest tributary of the Limpopo. Normal discharges from the dam are 1,500
cubic metres a second, but as from midnight last Wednesday, it was releasing
5,300 cubic metres a second.

That water flows into the Limpopo, raising the river above flood alert level
at Chokwe, the heart of the country’s largest irrigation system. Roads in
and around Chokwe have become impassable, and about 3,900 hectares of
recently planted rice are under water.

The Gaza provincial government is on full alert, and has repeatedly urged
people to move away from the river to higher ground, and to remove pumps and
other agricultural equipment that may be at risk.

In the centre of the country, the number of known deaths from the torrential
rains caused by cyclone Funso in Zambezia province has risen to 12, most of
them caused by houses collapsing on top of them.

According to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the
storm destroyed about 1,610 house in the Zambezia district of Maganja da
Costa and 510 in Nicoadala district.

Much of the provincial capital, Quelimane, was flooded, and the Zambezia
Provincial Governor, Francisco Itai Meque, visited Quelimane neighbourhoods
on Monday. He gave instructions to the local branch of the government’s
relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), to draw up
a list of people who lost their food supplies to the flood, and to see
whether any Quelimane households need plastic sheeting to cover their
houses, in cases where the roofs were blown off.

The newly elected mayor of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, has been visiting
the most affected areas since Saturday. He mobilized teams of municipal
workers to clear blocked drainage channels, to try and evacuate the storm

Backed by the independent television station STV, Araujo launched a campaign
of solidarity with the flood victims, urging better off citizens too donate
goods to help the less fortunate residents of the city.

One of the government’s major concerns is to avoid a cholera outbreak, and
so the Zambezia health authorities are distributing chlorine to purify

Funso has moved south east, and by Tuesday morning it was in the middle of
the Mozambique Channel, almost due east of Beira, and half way between
Mozambique and Madagascar.

According to the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), the cyclone
is generating winds of 115 knots (212 kilometres per hour) with gusts of up
to 140 knots. It is affecting the weather on the coasts of Sofala and
Inhambane provinces, and in southern Madagascar. Funso is also causing waves
up to 11.5 metres high.

Over the next 24 hours, Funso is expected to intensify, with its sustained
winds reaching 125 knots, and gusts of up to 150 knots. But it is also
predicted to move away from land. The course plotted by the JTWC will take
the cyclone away from both Mozambique and Madagascar.
Pf/ (856)

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