Mozambique’s transport operators have announced that they will no longer cross into South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province because of growing insecurity on the road.
Bus and taxi operators would stop at the Ponta do Ouro border, and passengers would have to catch other means of transport to continue with their journey, often to Durban, the biggest city in KwaZulu-Natal.
Gangs in KwaZulu-Natal have continuously stopped Mozambican-registered private and commercial vehicles, robbing passengers and torching vehicles.
The most recent attack was on Saturday, with Mozambicans retaliating on Monday by torching a South African-registered vehicle on their side of the border.
The commercial vehicles carry both Mozambicans and South Africans.
The road is busy, with Mozambicans often travelling from Maputo, to Durban to buy goods to sell in shops and markets in Mozambique’s capital.
For their part, South Africans mostly come to Mozambique for a holiday – and the beach in Ponta do Ouro is popular with them.
So, the decision will not only negatively affect the business of transport companies, but also other sectors.
The head of the Mozambican Federation of Road Transport Operators (Fematro) said they had no choice because it had become too dangerous to drive in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We have suspended our activities,” he said at a press conference.
However, transport companies would continue operating on the road between Maputo and South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg, though some attacks have also been reported on that route.
The latest development is bound to increase pressure on the Mozambican and South African governments to improve security, and ease tensions between communities on both sides of the border.
Some Mozambican gangs have been accused of stealing vehicles in South Africa, and some reports suggest that the targeting of Mozambican-registered vehicles is a retaliatory measure – though the attacks are random.