New ‘Mapa dos Chapas’ public transport map for Maputo

A new route map for Maputo’s privately-operated minibuses, known as chapas, will be launched later this year with the aim of making the system easier to use and allowing passengers to plan their journeys around the city.

The map, which covers the Maputo metropolitan area, was carried out by civil society organisation, Rede Uthende, and transport consultancy GoteoMoz in collaboration with the Maputo Municipal Council and the network of private transport operators.

A preliminary version of the map, which includes routes, bus stops, and transport terminals, was displayed at FACIM, Mozambique’s biggest annual trade fair, in August 2016. At the end of this year an official version will be launched, after improvements are made based on the feedback being collected through consultation on social media, e-mail, and meetings.

The map can be seen at the ‘Mapa dos Chapas’ Facebook page, where visitors can download a copy and leave feedback.

The ‘Mapa dos Chapas’ project was launched three years ago by Spanish anthropologist Joaquín Romero de Tejada, who says the biggest challenge was to systematize the information collected from the chapa owners and from the ‘cobradores’, or fare collectors – specifically, what they consider bus stops –  and to understand their very specific jargon.

Romero de Tejada and Rede Uthende worked with the transport operators association – ATROMAP – to develop an overview of the routes and bus stops. The association’s contribution is almost 85% of the total data collected, Romero de Tejada said.

Transport inequalities

The growing number of vehicles in Maputo over recent years, and the number of people working in central Maputo are adding pressure to an infrastructure and means of transport that is insufficient to respond to the demands of a city of more than 1 million inhabitants. “Economic activities are in the centre of the town, and that forces many people from the peripheral areas to move to the centre,” Romero de Tejada said.

According to Sérgio Maló, a researcher at the Department of Geography at Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University, the map will be “a useful tool to open up debate about mobility, and could improve the planning on new routes.”

However, he said, “the transport problem in Maputo is not just about means of transport and access roads. The city is not homogeneous, so it is essential to improve the city structure considering the different social and economic groups and their mobility needs.”

Public transport is risky in Maputo. Maputo’s chapas, Sérgio Maló said, “are insufficient, unsafe, and unreliable. These problems are structural and should be treated as such. There are no simple solutions.”

Other forms of transport are even more dangerous. Many people come and go to the centre of town from outside neighbourhoods standing on the back of pickup trucks known as “My love” – a nickname given because passengers must embrace one another so they don’t fall off.

Improvements on hold

In 2014 a project to construct a Bus Rapid Transit – BRT – was considered by the municipality authorities as a priority to solve the problems of transportation in Maputo. The project was conceived as part of the “Plano Director de Transportes” (Transport Master Plan), which also covered Matola city, Boane and Marracuene districts and was supported by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency).

According to online news site, @Verdade, the BRT project is unlikely to happen, as the government is struggling to find the necessary funding for the construction. @Verdade contacted the Ministry of Transport and Communications to get a sense of how and when the project is planned to start, to which they responded that they “are analysing the financial options available”.

When asked for comments, a representative of the construction company responsible for the BRT project, Odebrecht, told Zitamar News, he could not share any remarks on the current situation of the project.

For Romero de Tejada, the BRT construction project could raise two risks – lack of sustainability and marginalization of the pedestrians – although he admits that it could be a first step.

On the “Mapa dos Chapas”, Joaquín expects that after version two or three, “government will uphold their responsibility in improving and continuing the project”.

Article republished from Zitamar News.

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