By Sharon Kavhu
Windhoek - South Africa’s transport minister Blade Nzimande has commended strides made through the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) since its inception in 2003.
Nzimande, the new chairperson of the regional corridor group said the TKC has been growing rapidly with practical economic development achieved along the corridor.
He took over from Alpheus !Naruseb, Namibia’s Minister of Works and Transport, during the meeting of SADC Ministers of ICT, Transport and Meteorology in Windhoek 24-28 September.
TKC is a road network spanning approximately 1,900 km across the territories of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
It starts in the Gauteng Province in South Africa and continues through Rustenburg and Zeerust in the North-West Province, through Lobatse and Kanye in Botswana, the Mamuno and Trans Kalahari Border Posts through Gobabis, Windhoek and Okahandja in Namibia and right through to the Port of Walvis Bay.
“This corridor plays a pivotal role in the economic development of all our member states and our region, particularly in anchoring the development of industries and business along the corridor,” Nzimande during the TKC chairmanship reception.
“I am indeed happy with the strides that we have made in our TKC. Among the milestones achieved is the introduction of the Custom Single Administration Document, the completion of the feasibility study on truck stops, the development of harmonised weighbridges, the harmonisation of axle load limits from 8.2 to nine tonnes and the introduction of the Joint Law Enforcement Operations across the member states.”
He also applauded Namibia for steering the august organisation and for achieving a lot during its chairmanship.
“I would like to congratulate Namibia on its port expansion in Walvis Bay. This will bring more capacity on the Western seaboard, which includes ports in South Africa. We need to endure that our ports complement each other instead of competing to improve the regional value chain,” he said.
The key challenges hindering growth and trade within the SADC region include, among others, poor infrastructures, low density across transport networks, inefficient border processes and fragmented.
According to Nzimande, if SADC is to attain its goal of creating a seamless, cost-effective and fully integrated region; road, rail and ports systems are required to secure the future of the region.
Nzimande said corridor development can serve as a good guide for the overall attainment of this regional development goal and as such, there is a need to deepen the member states integration so that trade creation and diversion is maximised.
“This corridor should help us to ensure that we trade among each other and replace imports from the rest of the world, especially those coming outside of our continent. Equally important, the corridor should help us beyond trade liberalisation by reducing uncertainties and improving our credibility and thus making it easier for the private sector to plan and invest in this corridor,” said Nzimande.
He said there is a need to adopt unified positions on issues of mutual interest and the development will help the region to negotiate trade and international commodity agreements with third parties and for us to safeguard our common regional interests.
The TKC is a tripartite trans-boundary corridor management institution that was established with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards deeper regional integration programs of SADC, SACU and indeed NEPAD.
This corridor is known for providing a short transport link across the entire breadth of the South African sub-continent.
Compared to the traditional routes via southern Namibia to South Africa’s Gauteng, TKC cuts the distance by 400km, making it a more preferred route and providing cost-effective logistical advantages to users. It is a strategic route-of-choice that provides linkages between the Americas and East European markets and the Southern African hinterland.