Angola to Revive Luanda Port’s Freight Trains This Month

The transport of cargo by rail in Angola, Africa’s second largest oil producer, will begin this month from the port of Luanda for the first time in two decades.

The target is to move 615,000 metric tons a year, Isaac Mateus, Commercial Director at Caminho de Ferro de Luanda E.P, said in an interview on Feb. 27. Cargo will move along the refurbished line from the capital to the city of Malange, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) inland, and from the Boa Vista cargo terminal ear the port to Viana, a town 26 kilometers to the east with a special economic zone to encourage industry, he said.

“Now that we have a line inside the port, this will alert people to use trains instead of trucks,” Mateus, 35, said at the Bungo station on the outskirts of Luanda’s central district. An exact date in March to open the new line from the port hasn’t been set, he said.

Angola has spent about $600 million over two years with the help of loans and workers from China to rebuild the two main rail lines out of the capital. Importers have relied on trucking cargo from the port on roads congested by construction projects as Angola rebuilds from a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. The railway has four functioning locomotives and 44 passenger cars plus seven engines and 11 cabins under repair, Mateus said.

Contracts are being negotiated with Sonangol Distribuidora, an arm of the state oil company, to ship butane cooking gas from Luanda to Malange and diesel 120 kilometers east to Dondo, he said. Multiparques Lda., an Angolan container company, is the railway’s largest client while Chinatec Corp., a construction company, sends gravel by rail to Kwanza North province, Mateus said.

Passenger Trains

Since 2011, the railway has been shipping an average of 64 containers a day from Viana to Malange, the manager said. It’s seeking public-private business arrangements with farmers in Malange province to ship produce to Luanda. The company has 30 40-foot container cars, 30 tankers, 20 gondolas, 10 freight cars and six grain hoppers, Mateus said.

Passenger service from Bungo station began Feb. 4, resuming a service disrupted by the war about 20 years ago, replacing Boa Vista station as the closest to the city’s center. Fifteen trains a day can take as many as 11,000 people as far as Baia, about 30 kilometers outside the city. Dondo and Malange residents have services once a week.

“There have been a lot of positive changes in the passenger service and the efficiency,” said Mateus. “The previous administration was during the war and the new one is for a whole new Angola: no more war.”

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