Cited by the independent television station STV, the spokesperson for the Manica Provincial Police Command, Elsidia Filipe, said the decision to introduce protected convoys was taken following a series of attacks by gunmen of the rebel movement Renamo this week, in which two people died and 12 trucks were looted and set on fire.
The convoys go from the small town of Vanduzi to the Luenha river, which forms the boundary between Manica and Tete provinces. This is a distance of over 200 kilometres, and it passes through Barue district, where most of the recent Renamo ambushes have taken place.
This is part of National Highway Seven (EN7) which carries traffic from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Malawi through Tete and Manica and on to the port of Beira.
The police have not yet announced how many convoys there will be per day â€“ but it was expected there would be at least two in each direction.
The first convoy set out from Vanduzi at about 10.00 on Saturday morning. But as night fell in Vanduzi, the police escort had not yet returned, accompanying a convoy travelling in the opposite direction. STV report that the first convoy had been attacked, but no details are yet available.
The drivers of trucks at Vanduzi had no option but to spend the night there. Some lit fires to cook meals, while others tried to sleep beside or even underneath the trucks.
There are now three stretches of road in central Mozambique where transport is only possible in convoys under armed escort. The other two stretches are both on the main north-south highway (EN1) in Sofala province â€“ from the Save River to the small town of Muxungue, and from Nhamapadza to Caia, on the south bank of the Zambezi.Post published in: Africa News