Malawi retreats on navigation shire and Zambezi

The Malawian government has backtracked on its demand that Mozambique authorise merchant shipping to use the Zambezi and Shire rivers to carry goods to and from landlocked Malawi.

Last year relations between the two countries cooled when Malawi inaugurated a port at Nsanje on the Shire – but the Mozambican authorities refused to allow barges laden with fertilizer to make the journey to Nsanje up the Shire-Zambezi waterway.

Mozambique said the rivers could not be opened to commercial shipping without a thorough study – particularly of the environmental implications. It seems that Malawi has now accepted this position.

Malawi’s new position came to light on Thursday during a meeting of southern and eastern African transport minister held in the northern Mozambican city of Nampula.

According to a report in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, citing Fortunato Albrinho, the head of international relations in the Mozambican Transport Ministry, the Malawians now agree that studies should be made by independent consultants about the impact of commercial shipping on the environment and biodiversity, and on the security of the two countries.

“At this meeting”, said Albrinho, “the Malawian government recognised that using the Shire and Zambezi rivers for Malawian imports and exports involves the sovereignty of our country. It recognizes that before any steps can be taken, there must be a cautious treatment of the matter”.

However, the Mozambican and Malawian representatives at the ministerial meeting did not propose any date for the start of the studies.

Post published in: Africa News

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