Mozambique: To Build Condominium in Mangrove Area May Be Revoked

Maputo — Mozambique’s Ministry of Land and the Environment may revoke the environmental licence granted to the company Top Logistica to build a luxury condominium on a mangrove area in the Maputo neighbourhood of Costa do Sol, according to a report on the independent television station, STV.

Despite the official government commitment to protecting the country’s mangrove forests, both the Environment Ministry and the Maputo Municipal Council authorized construction of the condominium.

But the Ministry may be having second thoughts. The National Director for Climate Change, Jadwiga Massinga, told STV that the Ministry might annul the licence granted to Top Logistica.

“If the licence was issued, there was probably a reason, but nobody said it’s set in stone’, said Massinga. “We can always re-analyse, review and, if the decision was not appropriate, retreat. But right now I cannot say yes or no’.

STV asked how the Environment Ministry could issue a licence to build in a sensitive ecosystem, at a time when the Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries is leading a campaign to restore the mangrove forests. Did that not mean that the two Ministries are contradicting each other over protection of the mangroves?

Massinga replied that decisions on granting environmental licences are taken by a commission on which the Ministry of the Sea also gives its opinion.

“The Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries sits on the commission which assesses undertakings that need an environmental licence’, he said.

It seems clear that the Top Logistica proposal violates the country’s environmental legislation which bans the building of homes that have a significant negative impact on the environment. It also forbids the issuing of land use titles (known as DUATs) for zones that are totally or partially protected, such as mangroves.

The Top Logistica project seems doomed, since the Maputo City Attorney’s office has already instructed the Municipal Council to revoke its authorization, given the sensitive nature of the mangrove ecosystem.