From the Congo to Walvis Bay can work only if corruption at border posts is completely eradicated
A trade route is only as strong as its statutory framework. Given the history of disruptive actions by Zambian authorities and the immense obstacles vehicles encounter at Zambian border posts, a recent three-country meeting in Ndola critically looked at the commitments required from each country to improve the current dysfunctional state of the Ndola Lubumbashi Development Corridor
Reminding his colleagues about the reasons for intra-regional trade facilitation, the Chief Executive of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, Mr Johny Smith urged member states to adhere to implementation of the Action Plan for the Walvis Bay Ndola Lubumbashi Development Corridor.
Mr Nicholas Chikwenya, the Transport Director in the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Zambia officially opened the meeting, with additional contributions by Mr Smith, Mr Simon Mbedwa, the Assistant Director of CEPCOR in the DRC and Mr Cedric Limbo, the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Namibian Ministry of Works and Transport.
A critical component of the implementation process is the harmonisation of regulations, both along the corridor and at border posts, to make it easy for private sector companies across the three member states to grow their trade, Smith pointed out to the other bureaucrats responsible for implementation.
The meeting was attended by a large group of technical experts from all three countries to review the recommendations made by the Committee of Ministers and to draw up a progress report for 2017.
Important points of discussion included the establishment of a permanent secretariat, the thorny issue of customs disruptions as well as other major challenges along the corridor such as clearing time at the borders, security and pervasive corruption by government officials along the corridors.
The meeting also looked in some depth at the impact of transit fees, immigration control, road transport and road infrastructure. In addition, the meeting received updates on health and veterinary issues, and the potential for railway to service the entire length of the corridor.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 2018 in Walvis Bay.