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Cablegate: Mocamedes Rr Stalled for Demining

VZCZCXRO8224
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #1082 2971533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241533Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4384
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0106
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0137

UNCLAS LUANDA 001082

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR AF/S AND EAP/CM
STATE PASS USTR FOR EBONG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELTN EMIN ETRD AO CH
SUBJECT: MOCAMEDES RR STALLED FOR DEMINING

REF: A. LUANDA 1015
B. LUANDA 648

1. (U) Summary. Work on Angola's southernmost railway line,
the Mocamedes Railway (CFM), is not progressing, according to
its Director, Julio Bango Joaquim. Bango said work will
begin as soon as landmines are removed from the line east of
Lubango. He added the railway should prosper when the iron
mines along the route resume the export of ore, halted since
1973. End Summary.

Meeting with CFM Director
-------------------------

2. (U) On October 9, Econoff and analyst met with Dr. Julio
Bango, Director General of the Mocamedes Railway Company
(CFM) at the CFM's headquarters in Lubango, Huila Province.
According to Bango, CFM has kept the westernmost one-third of
the 970 kilometer-long rail line just barely operational
between Lubango and the port of Namibe (Note: The trip takes
seven hours by rail but only two by automobile). According
to Bango, the National Reconstruction Office (GRN), through
its Chinese subcontractors, is in charge of rehabilitation
work along the line, and CFM managers merely inspect the
completed work.

3. (U) Bango said that rebuilding the line should take two
years and start in five more months, after the Angolan Armed
Forces (FAA) demine the easternmost 400 kilometers of line up
to the terminus in Menongue, Cuando Cubango Province. The
demining timeline is based on the FAA clearing mines at three
kilometers per day. Because the old rails and ties are both
made of steel, FAA deminers will make a second search for
mines after the old steel structures have been removed.

4. (U) Bango said the Chinese construction company contracted
by the GRN to rebuild the line has set up two camps along the
line: at Arimba to cast concrete ties and at Chanja to
quarry ballast for the line. Once the line has been demined,
the old ballast will be removed, the rail bed graded anew,
new concrete culverts built, fresh ballast put down and
eventually, track will be laid, Bango said.

Hauling Iron Ore
----------------

5. (U) Portuguese investors built the Mocamedes Railway line
in the early 20th century to export iron ore from Huila's
Kassinga mine, according to Bango and Fernando Pontes
Ferreira, Huila Province Director of Planning and Statistics.
The mines operated from 1957 to 1973, producing 6 million
metric tons of ore in 1973. A Luanda-based expatriate
businessman confided that the Brazilian mining giant, Rio do
Vale Doce, has studied the potential of restarting the
Kassinga mine, but apparently is waiting for the rail line to
open before investing.

Comment
-------

6. (U) While some initial preparations have been made to
support the rehabilitation of the CFM railway, most of the
effort remains in suspense until demining is complete along
the entire line. The ever-present danger of land mines in
rural Angola is a good example of the barriers to service
roll-out facing the country. The hard-to-answer question
about why work has not yet progressed along the mine-free
section of the rail line reveals another.
FERNANDEZ

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