OPERATION of Mozambique's 700 km northern line between the Malawi border at Nayuci and the port of Nacala is set to be handed over to a private sector consortium on October 1. State-owned ports and railway authority CFM has selected the Sociedade de Desenvolvimente do Corredor de Nacala as preferred bidder, and signed a memorandum of understanding on February 10 setting a 90-day timescale for negotiating terms.

SDCN includes US-based Railroad Development Corp and Edlow Resources, Mozambique firm Manica plus local and Portuguese investors. Malawian interests will be offered an equity stake of at least 16%, and CFM will also become a partner in the consortium.

At the beginning of March, the Portuguese government granted US$2·5m for rehabilitation of the 77 km section of line from Cuamba to the Malawi border.

RDC is one of seven firms shortlisted to submit bids last September for a 20 year concession to operate the 797 route-km Malawi Railways network. Other groups selected in a bidding process being managed by CPCS Transcom are GB Railways, Spoornet and Comazar of South Africa, Rail America, Transurb Consult of Belgium and CFM.