We are the National Roads Administration (ANE)

By EstácioValoi

Millions of dollars are wasted annually to tryimprove Mozambican roads, were the system of "plugging holes" is used in these difficult times.This is not a viable system because as soon as the first rain falls the holes are reopened.

This time was no different. In a pornographic advertisement the Mozambican government in the voice of the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources, JoãoMachatineannounced to the local press recently, that it will invest US[IG1] $200 million (€168 million) to improve roads in Cabo Delgado province, in northern Mozambique where interventions will start in August.

"We are investing approximately $200 million in Cabo Delgado province for access roads. "It is a significant investment" emphasized Minister Machatine on a recent visit to the province.

On the other side, without any publicity on giant screens, there are the ANE kids.

They are children of different age groups who make a living filling in the ditches, craters (which used to be called roads) that have turned into an abyss before the impassive gaze of the competent authorities.

The kids sweep sand, stones over pits with their bare hands lost in the red of the soil, torn by the stones that they gather to cover the holes to the permanent dodging of vehicles of all kinds that pass by. With arms outstretched, palm outstretched, every now and then some five hundred to 10 meticais fall on them, dropped by some good-willed drivers who pass by. The director of ANE, ministers, generals, and directors also pass by in high-cylinder cars with their eyes fixed on the potholes, at the speed of the wind that they feel almost or not at all on their buttocks, cushioned by the large springs, cans paid for by the budget for books, schools, and uniforms.

While some do travel on vehicles bought at the cost of tax payers others not both they do cross potholes in a hallucinating trip on mood of whiskey, champagne, wine, luxury prostitutes paid from with budget of the Mozambican contribution or on the ride of Brentwood institutions in millions of dollars claimed to be for the rehabilitation and/or construction of roads. In the mixing with the sleepwalking they grow like mushroom balls, tolls in the ghetto for the benefit of an industry growing at the speed light that covers the holes Putos ANE .

Manuel is 12 years old just like the others in his class. Abdul left school in 3rd grade to unwittingly become part of the new potholes and craters covering industry, replacing ANE. With their little hands they stand up to the big machines used in road construction, and by now they have covered a good few kilometers of road.

Oussufo was also there, all torn up, his diapers open from the war in Cabo Delgado, which had left him and thousands of other children naked, begging for beans or the food that never reaches them. Manuel is 12 years old just like the others in his class. Abdul stopped studying his 3rd.

Oussufo earns 10 meticais a day, or almost 100 a month, which he uses to buy food and notebooks to study (as a resource for the inconvenient profession he already has, filling in holes). There are also some vehicles that pass by, some with blue and red letters stamped on their doors, some that look more at children's issues like UNICEF, others that distribute mosquito nets or paracetamol like the Red Cross, others that leave food kits like WFP.

These ANE kids are still there with their crooked buckets, torn, dust-covered hands, lines indenting and protruding, wrinkles fermenting on fingers whose pencil and pen have been lost on the far horizon, eyes bent, on the lookout for the innocent whirls of the hand held out for 10 meticais.

The gentleman from the ANE, with the wind in his sails, crosses the holes "looking at the poor people", leaving them in the rearview mirror, with wide eyes, to see if his bottle of whiskey hasn't been robbed, or if his blinker hasn't fallen by the wayside, or if the bush-rat or ruby-rat wasn't around to smuggle some of his purchases in large bills to warm up his mistress or prostitutes on their way back to the Palace.

Some no longer even have tires to rub against the potholes or craters, and over these doing little or nothing to keep their jobs they fly with a sieve or broom. Were it not for that road - potholes from Montepuez to Pemba, rubies, gold or rhino horn pass throughthe customs service agents even managed to plug a hole in the road. They made a big seizure, the LBTG lubricating gel. The barefoot ANE kids eat up the dust, their shovels skewered, lost, the sand they carry leaks out before it is unloaded into the hole, and it takes a few more skeins until the hole is full.

The kids' hands have replaced the tractor, the cylinder has been replaced by the calluses of the kids' feet that are passing the palm of the foot in spins, front, side, back, every now and then lying down. The foot plays in engineering maneuvers like multinationals counted in millions of dollars. The ANE kids. They weave kilometers of road for 10 meticais. Manuel doesn't know about his future, only about the days when he replaces ANE. It's been months since he arrived in that area, transformed into a war displaced person.

Sometimes Manuel doesn't even earn the 10 meticais, holding out his hands for some cookies, mirror created around him. Manuel, a virgin, died a virgin. His friends told me days after our group conversation. He was run over by the director of ANE, who didn't even stop to look, he even tried later, but Manuel's body was lost in the huge crater. Later we heard on the radio that the director is going to rehabilitate the pits, he even created a toll to collect money for the rehabilitation.

Also through there, every day the cars of the billionaire multinationals in collusion with the Mozambican political nomenclature pass, big trucks zig-zagging.

Between the Êxit pumps that don't even spit fuel anymore, the ANE Director comes out, at the beginning of the two lane road at a cost of 472.007. 726.40 Meticais, which, at a chameleon's pace vs. accelerated, goes between direct awarding to friends in the fashion of "commissions", mother, daughter, sons even sell theirs to the dance of a few notes, in between, there are restaurants with no crossings for customers, fuel pumps, residents without notice, without compensation walk the red earth, their cars arranged on corners at the mercy of the light hand of the Municipal Prison in the next election. There passes the ANE Director in his Toyota Hilux.

We are the kids, we are ANE. (Moz24h)

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