Country Listing

Angola Table of Contents



In the 1980s, three different 1.067-meter gauge rail systems ran from the hinterland to major ports on the Atlantic Ocean (see fig. 10). The longest line (1,394 kilometers) was the Benguela Railway. It linked the port of Lobito with the central African rail system that served the mining regions of Shaba (Zaire) and the Zambian Copperbelt. The Benguela Railway had a rail spur to Cuima, near Huambo. In late 1988, it was operating only between Lobito and Benguela. In the south, the 899-kilometer Namibe Railway linked the port of Namibe to Menongue, with branches to Chiange and to the Cassinga iron ore deposits. In the north, the Luanda Railway ran from Luanda to Malanje, with rail spurs to Caxito and Dondo. In addition, a 123-kilometer, narrow-gauge line that had run from Porto Amboim to Gabela was closed as of 1987.

All three major systems have been subject to guerrilla attacks, and service on the Benguela Railway in particular has been severely affected. By May 1986, an estimated US$69 million worth of damage had been inflicted on the line, and the company that operated it had accumulated more than US$200 million in losses by 1986. Observers estimated that at least US$180 million would be needed to rehabilitate service on the line and that repairs would take five years. Similarly, traffic on the Namibe Railway has declined because of attacks by UNITA and because of the closure of the Cassinga iron mines, which had provided the line with most of its freight. Finally, by 1986 the Luanda Railway was carrying only one-fifth of the level carried in 1973, a consequence of guerrilla attacks and the deterioration of the line.

The rehabilitation of the "Lobito corridor" has been adopted as an official SADCC project. The project included the purchase of more locomotives and wagons and the upgrading of the entire Benguela Railway from Lobito to the Zaire border. The project also included the development of the Lobito port at a cost of about US$90 million.

Data as of February 1989