THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has said rail transport should be pegged at 50% of road transport as a way of decongesting the country’s border posts currently blamed of costing the industry millions of dollars.
CZI president, Busisa Moyo, told NewsDay in an emailed response that the country’s border posts — especially Beitbridge Border Post were inefficient, thereby costing the industry millions of dollars.
“Trucks are being delayed by 4 to 14 days at the borders. This means that efficiencies are affected by start-stop delays when raw materials run out because they are stuck at the border,” Moyo said.
“Rail transport should be pegged at 50% of road transport and industry would be willing to switch to rail and prevent the carnage on the road and the accelerated and extreme wear-and-tear that is costing the Zimbabwean public.”
Recently, Moyo and other CZI members requested Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko to assist in ensuring that Beitbridge Border Post was efficient since the delays were costing industry. They also raised the issue of railway connectivity between Harare and Bulawayo saying it was expensive to use road for the transportation of raw materials.
CZI also urged the government to seek ways of dealing with the porous border posts which are undermining local production capacity.
The local manufacturing industry is reeling under low capacity utilisation, owing to a number of challenges with the major one being the influx of foreign products, the bulk of which are allegedly coming in without paying duty.
Beitbridge Border Post is one of the busiest inland ports in sub-Saharan Africa and links the northern and southern corridors with a record 500 vehicles and 10 000 travellers passing through the port on a daily basis.
However, the port lacks soft and hard infrastructure that includes information technology and inspection bays, among others, to deal with high volumes of traffic.
Travellers spend 6 to 18 hours at the port of entry to complete immigration and customs formalities and for commercial traffic to be cleared it takes about three days.
The delays in the clearance of cargo and travellers have resulted in increased cost of goods and services. Statistics show that 10 million tonnes of cargo pass through the corridor every year and the United Kingdom Department of International Development suggests that transport costs in Africa are between 30% to 40% higher than those obtaining in other developing regions. This shows that transport costs are a drag on regional trade and economic development.