Maputo, Mozambique (PANA) – The Mozambican government’s decision to lease the port of Maputo to a private company was a serious mistake, according t o Rui Fonseca, the Chairperson of the publicly-owned ports and rail company, CFM .
Interviewed in Friday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, Fonseca said the d ecision was influenced by foreign interests.
The leaseholder, the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), a consortium head ed by the British Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, was not honouring its agreem e nts with CFM, and the port was not following acceptable management models.
“A concession in which you lease the entire port to a single entity is not a goo d idea,” Fonseca said, adding “Ports consist of terminals and the leases should b e undertaken by terminals. It’s then much easier to handle the lease, much easie r to identify partners with synergies appropriate to each terminal. Each terminal
has a typology and a technology adapted to the cargo that it handles.
“A coal terminal is a coal terminal, a sugar terminal is a sugar terminal. They are technically different”.
He said not only were terminal leases much easier to handle, but with a “master lease” for the entire port, “we are mixing everything up, because the whole pack a ge is leased to one body. This is a situation which does not create jobs, which i s a bad sign.”
Fonseca was also not impressed with the argument that the leaseholders were chos en by public tenders. “When people say that tenders bring transparency, I reply t hat any tender can be manipulated. It’s a fallacy to claim that tenders in thems e lves guarantee transparency. Transparency is assured by the ethics and professio n alism of those who direct the tenders and the partnership processes.”
Fonseca accused the MPDC of not paying the agreed rent to the CFM for its lease. CFM only received part of the money from the British-led consortium and so thos e who are most damaged by the lease of Maputo Port are CFM and the Mozambican sta t e.”
MPDC has been managing the port since 2001 under an arrangement that the consort ium must pay CFM an annual fixed rate plus a percentage of pre-tax gross income.
The fixed rate was set at US$ 5 million a year, but this is indexed to the US Co n sumer Price Index, and so will fluctuate.
CFM has a similar problem with the Nacala port and rail system in the north of t he country. Here a master lease covers the entire system, both port and railway,
managed by the Northern Development Corridor (CDN), a consortium where the main f oreign investors are the US companies Edlows Resources and the American Railroad
This too, Fonseca said, is a lease “with serious problems of failure to comply w ith agreements, and which is lacking in transparent management”.
Fonseca contrasted the failed leases with that for the central port of Beira, ma naged by the Dutch group Cornelder. He considered Cornelder’s management to be ” e xcellent”, and in line with the agreements signed with CFM. Furthermore, Beira p o rt was declaring dividends every year.
“For us, the role of companies is to generate full employment, to generate incom e that produces sustainable wealth, produces dividends, and complies with tax ob l igations”, declared Fonseca.