An upgraded road in northern Mozambique is more than just a road - The Milange-Mocuba Road diaries

An upgraded road in northern Mozambique is more than just a road - The Milange-Mocuba Road diaries

When I first came here, the road was lousy, full of portholes. In the rainy season, we would arrive full of mud and dirt. We would have one set of clothes in a bag and drive here in another. We’d need to find a place to change when we arrived. Now, you leave home at 06.00 and at 06.30 you're here. Travelling from here to Quelimane, 350 km away, seems just a short distance now that the road is good

Apolonia Gravata, school teacher.

CONTEXT

The Milange-Mocuba Corridor is a fertile agricultural region which so far has had little share in Mozambique's recent economic growth because it lacks good transport infrastructure. A Participative Poverty Study conducted in Mozambique back in 1995 concluded that the number one priority of "the poorest of the poor" was not healthcare or education, but a road they could use all year round. The explanation was simple. If you have a road, you can travel. And if you can travel you can access markets where the prices of agricultural products are higher and consumer goods are less expensive.

OBJECTIVES

  • To upgrade the 190 km road between Milange and Mocuba to pavement standard thereby opening up areas of significant agricultural production along the Milange-Mocuba corridor to markets, promoting economic and social development, enhancing regional integrating and reducing poverty.

RESULTS

  • Approximately 1.4 million Mozambicans, living in the bordering districts of the corridor, will benefit from better rural and highway transport that will allowfarmers to market their produce more profitably, encourage investors to create employment opportunities in the corridor, and allow its inhabitants to travel and access healthcare and education opportunities more easily.
  • First phase was completed in August 2013 and upgraded from gravel to pavement standard over the 80-km stretch of the N11 from Mocuba to Alto Benfica.
  • Second phase connecting Milange to Alto Benfica, upgraded the 110 km highway, upgraded two bridges and new construction of two further bridges at Mutuasse and Namilate damaged by the 2015 floods.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Between 2010 - 2018, the European Union funded (€150 million) the upgrade of Milange-Mocuba corridor (190-Km), contributing to promote economic and social development in rural areas.

TESTIMONY

Storied from the Road - Apolonia Gravata, school teacher

"I am Apolonia Gravata, a teacher, originally from Quelimane, but I came here to work in the Balala high school in 2016.

When I first came here, the road was lousy - full of portholes. In the rainy season, we would arrive full of mud, clay, dirt. We would have one set of clothes in a bag and drive here in another. We’d need to find a place to change when we arrived.

Now, you leave home at 06.00 and at 06.30 you're here. At 07.00 sharp you are in the classroom. In the old times, you'd always be late.

Travelling from here to Quelimane, 350 km away, seems just a short distance now that the road is good. The teachers can go there during the weekend. On Sunday they can come back and get ready to be at work on Monday. We don’t get sick from all the bumps.

Now people like my colleagues are doing their Masters in Mocuba, or in Quelimane. They can  improve themselves. They travel, do their studies and the next day there are here, at work.

When we come back, and bring fresh fish or other specialties, the fish arrives fresh. It’s not bruised and damaged, and it doesn't go bad like in the old times.

The road is good for the students too. They can get here on time and they’re not rushing to be home before dark. They can now stay to use the library to do their homework and study.

It was dangerous, because of the bumps and potholes in the road, especially at the end of the school day when it was often dark before they’d get home. Some of them travel 15 – 20 km by bike. We used to have a lot of people missing school, or arriving very late. Now they don’t miss school any more. That used to be very bad for their marks.

It’s especially good for the girls. Before they’d stop studying once they completed 7th grade because of the fear of the road. Now they can finish high school and even go to university."