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Lusa - Business News - Mozambique: Government unaware of Beirute ammonium nitrate destination

Maputo, Aug. 12, 2020 (Lusa) - Mozambique's government has declared that the national port authorities were unaware that the ammonium nitrate at the origin of the explosion in Beirut was originally intended for a Mozambican company because the operation was still outside its jurisdiction.

"The Mozambican authorities that would be involved in the authorisation process and other procedural procedures had no way of knowing," said the cabinet spokesman, Filimão Suaze, in the weekly press conference.

Suaze spoke on Tuesday for the first time since news began to appear last week that the ammonium nitrate that caused the explosions in Beirut was destined for Mozambique.

He said that the Mozambican port authorities only know that a ship is on its way to national waters with at least seven days to go, which was not the case of the ship carrying the ammonium nitrate.

"The information to the port entities regarding the arrival of a ship is made in an interval of between seven and 15 days," he said.

The cabinet spokesman said that a Mozambican company was responsible for the ammonium nitrate order in 2013, but the cargo did not arrive in the country and was retained in Lebanon's capital.

Part of the merchandise that the company imports stay in Mozambique and another goes to neighbouring countries, he revealed.

Highlighting that ammonium nitrate is also applied in agriculture, Suaze said that just over four million tonnes of fertilizer entered Mozambique through the ports of Maputo (south), Beira, (centre) and Nacala (north), between 2015 and the first half of this year.

"What is important to retain here is that of all the fertilizers handled in the national ports only, about 8% correspond to the national cargo because all the other cargo is in transit to countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa," he said.

Suaze said that the handling and storage of fertilizers destined for the country or in transit to other countries is done safely and in compliance with national and international legislation.

"Mozambican port entities and companies linked to the area of explosives in Mozambique have been working following the regulatory instruments in force, which is why we have never had a situation like [that of Beirut] and everything will be done so that these instruments continue to be complied with," Suaze said.

"The problem should not be focused on the issue of ammonium nitrate as such, but on the process of its conservation and to understand why it stayed long in that port [of Beirut] and to what conditions of conservation it was subject," he stressed.

The Mozambique Explosives Factory (FEM) confirmed on Sunday that it ordered the 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that caused the explosions in Beirut, pointing out that the cargo seized by the Lebanese authorities was replaced by another consignment.

The order was placed by the FEM, in 2013, to the Georgian company Savaro, and the planned place of unloading was the port of Beira, in Mozambique, said the official source of the Mozambican firm Lusa.

However, that cargo was never delivered as the ship was held in Beirut by order of the local authorities.

The cargo was stored in the port of the Lebanese capital and is said to have been at the origin of the explosions recorded on Tuesday, which devastated entire districts.

The FEM is owned by the Portuguese company Moura, Silva & Filhos, with headquarters in Póvoa de Lanhoso, Braga district.

The huge explosion that devastated the port and some neighbourhoods of Beirut caused 171 deaths and more than 6,000 injured, according to a new report issued today by the ministry of health, while searches continue under the rubble after the disaster.



Agency : LUSA

Date : 2020-08-13 09:53:35


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