As Mozambique has developed, the number of cars and traffic accidents has increased. Despite official safety regulations, the ability to move forward without being pushed or towed determines the roadworthiness of Mozambican vehicles. Additionally, many drivers exhibit levels of carelessness that will amaze you. Local mini-bus or chapas are not well maintained and you really should think twice before getting into one.
Having said all that, driving in Mozambique can be a rewarding adventure if you prepare yourself ahead of time. Driving is on the left hand side of the road. Know that it is an offence not to carry your valid driving license with you when driving. Be ready to politely present the originals of your car documentation, driver’s license, and compulsory third party insurance policy as well as your passport when requested by the police. All vehicles on Mozambican roads must carry two reflective triangles and a reflective vest at all times. Be aware of local road rules. For example, U-turns at traffic light intersections are never allowed – even if there is no sign prohibiting a U-turn.
For your own safety, put the vest on if you have to get out of your car for any reason when on the highway. Going far? Check to make sure that everything you need to change a tyre is really is in the car before you embark on your adventure – these little items frequently go AWOL in Africa. Have the car serviced by someone you trust and prepare yourself for rough roads, great scenery and few facilities. Take a good first aid kit with you, because Clicks is not around the corner and headaches and upset stomachs happen even on holiday.
Know that in rural areas most Mozambicans walk on the roads, since there are no sidewalks. Children and livestock regularly stray on the roads. Be on the lookout; pedestrians do unpredictable things in Mozambique. Most accidents happen at night and end in tragedy. Simply do not drive after dark outside of major cities and adhere to the speed limits, especially near villages and settlements.
Tip: if you see plant material on the road, slow down. Those who have no reflective triangles use branches and leaves to warn oncoming traffic of an obstruction in the road, such as an unroadworthy vehicle.
If stopped by the police remain calm and polite. Ask for a clear explanation of the offence and a written fine that can be paid at a police station. Remember that the vast majority of police officers in Mozambique do work in the interests of law and order. However, in response to reports of police officers soliciting bribes from drivers, a new hotline has been created to report incidents of corruption. Record when and where the incident happened and get the officer’s name and if possible, the badge number. Call the anti-corruption hotline 843404 to report it.