‘High transport costs obstacle to regional trade’

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‘High transport costs obstacle to regional trade’

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 20, 2018

    Prosper Ndlovu

    Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has implored the Southern African Development Community (sadc) region leadership to invest more towards improving transport network efficiency.  

    This, he said, would reduce the inland cost of moving goods and enhance production efficiency across all economic sectors.

    Speaking in Bulawayo last week during an occasion to receive railway equipment under the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet US$400 million recapitalisation deal, Mnangagwa said the regional industrialisation drive would not be complete with development of a robust transport system.

    “It has been observed that most land-locked countries in Africa incur higher inland costs to move goods to and from the seaports, making products uncompetitive across borders. 

    “As a result, transport costs have been cited as one of the major obstacles to international trade and economic growth in Africa,” said Mnangagwa.

    He alluded to the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, which identifies the expansion, upgrading and interconnection of the regional transport (road, rail, air and ports), as key in enhancing trade flow and the mobility of factors of production.

    “Increased investment is, therefore, needed to improve the quality of the regional transport network across all modes while promoting alternative renewable energy sources for the rail transport system,” he said.

    In line with the SADC guidelines on the Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, Mnangagwa said his government was committed to ensuring modernisation, rehabilitation and refurbishment of the country’s railway system and establishing new networks that penetrate into the region.

    “This will, in turn, hasten regional integration and enhance our ability to offer lower transport costs, based on economies of scale and reduced cost of doing business.

    “A rejuvenated railway network will, therefore, not only benefit the country but other countries in the sub-region,” said Mnangagwa.

    He said an efficient transport system was critical, especially rail, for landlocked countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and others in supporting industrial growth, as it enhances the region’s ability to compete and integrate within its sphere as well as connecting with international markets.

    An efficient transport system, thus, further significantly reduces the cost at which the region lands its products to export markets, said the President.

    Zimbabwe is already spearheading the revival of the NRZ, which has received critical rail equipment on lease terms under its US$400 million deal with DIDG/Transnet Consortium.

    The interim solution equipment includes 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches meant to address key resource gaps while negotiations for the mega-deal are being concluded.

    The country is also upgrading its major roads such as Plumtree-Mutare, Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu, among others, which have a regional significance.

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