ON JANUARY 10 private-sector operators took over Mozambique's Northern Railway and the port of Nacala, with the start of a long-awaited 15-year concession.

The handover marks the completion of the second phase of the Nacala Corridor concessioning process. It also paves the way for the start of upgrading on the 611 km main line from Nacala to the Malawian border at Nayuci (RG 6.04 p363).

The new operator is Corredor de Desenvolvimento do Norte, a consortium led by Railroad Development Corp of Pittsburgh. Other partners are Edlow Resources Ltd, Manica of Mozambique, local private investors and Mozambique's state-owned port and railway administration CFM. The RDC-led group has been working since 1997 to create an integrated port and rail corridor linking Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. The first step was achieved in 1999 when Central East African Railway was awarded the concession to run the Malawi rail network.

RDC President Robert A Pietrandrea announced on January 14 that CDN would immediately start work on rehabilitating the 77 km between Cuamba and the Malawian border, with infrastructure improvements to improve drainage. It will also start to refurbish the largest natural deep-water port on the east African coast.

Under an agreement signed in June 2003, the US Overseas Private Investment Corp will provide US$29·6m towards the rehabilitation work.