Mozambique: Maputo wants to delay opening of supermarkets, public services to ease congestion

Maputo - The Government of Mozambique intends to stagger Maputo’s working hours, delaying the opening of large supermarkets and retail stores, as well as of public services, by one hour, to remove 55,000 passengers from the road during peak hours.

According to the proposal from the Ministry of Transport and Communications, through the Maputo Metropolitan Transport Agency, which is being presented to several organizations, “around 850,000 trips are made daily” in the capital, “of which 355,000 are in public transport and the rest in private vehicles”.

“The city of Maputo, the political and economic capital of the country, has a great attraction for travel, due to the concentration of a varied set of institutions, services and activities that attract and generate a high number of passengers and private vehicles, producing peaks during rush hours that create congestion, accidents, pollution and long travel and waiting times for public transport,” the proposal accessed by Lusa today reads.

“We have around 400 buses, 15 mixed vehicles and around 3,000 ‘minibuses’ that provide public transport services. In general, activities start between 07:30 and 08:00, which creates great pressure on public transport. The morning and afternoon peaks are accentuated and the waiting time for transport is significant,” the document acknowledges.

Specifically, the proposed staggered opening hours foresees the opening of large supermarkets at 09:00, one hour later than at present, the same happening in retail trade.

In the public sector, the proposal involves delaying the start of services in the capital by one hour, from 7:30 am to 8:30 am, also ending an hour later, at 4:30 pm.

The measure, adds the document, would allow the “reduction of the peak period, especially the morning peak”, as well as preventing overcrowding on transport means and “congestion, stress and accidents”, in addition to increasing the “commercial speed in network”, with “an impact on reducing operational costs”, reducing waiting times for public transport during peak hours and alleviating the “concentration of passengers at stops and terminals”.

“The staggering of working hours could cause decreased passengers in the morning in the order of 55,000 people in just an hour’s difference,” it points out.

The proposal adds that the average travel time per trip within the Maputo metropolitan area increased by 21.1 minutes in ten years, in private transport, to 64.4 minutes in 2022, while that of public transport increased by 8.4 minutes, to 74.5 minutes.

According to the updated 2022 origin and destination matrix, “the number of vehicles entering Maputo has more than doubled and the number of people moving from neighbouring municipalities has increased from 350,000 to 600,000 people. The peak flow occurs in the period from 05:00 to 09:00 and from 15:00 to 19:00,” the report continues.

The document adds that 121 secondary schools and universities operate in the city of Maputo, which “represent a universe of around 210,000 students”, in addition to “around 17,250 other entities”, such as banks, health units, supermarkets, wholesale trade and retail, municipal markets, insurance companies and ministries, “which attract and generate thousands of trips daily”.

The proposal assumes that the scheduling will have to “comply with the Labour Law in force and the respective working hours” and highlights that, of the 20 institutions consulted, 17 had already given a positive opinion.

The final document will still have to be taken to the advisory council of the Ministry of Labour “for a final decision”, before going to the Council of Ministers, which must “investigate other legal provisions for their effective approval in a decree”. Lusa