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Importance of Trans Kalahari Corridor performance highlighted at SACU round table meeting

Importance of Trans Kalahari Corridor performance highlighted at SACU round table meeting

The Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS) Executive Director Leslie Mpofu has emphasised the importance of corridor performance in facilitating trade within the region.

He was speaking at the just ended South African Customs Union (SACU) meeting in Gaborone recently.

Speaking during the panel discussion on ‘Enhancing Competitiveness of the Trading Environment in SACU’ Mpofu stated that corridor performance is key in trade facilitation and it was important to develop a robust Trade Facilitation Programme that seeks to support effective trade facilitation and eventually lower transport costs.

Mpofu stated that transport operators and traders choose their routes based on the key performance of corridors, and these corridor performance indicators include the distance to related operating costs, cargo travel time, predictability of transit, reliability of important services along the corridor, safety and security as well as the ‘hospitability’ of the route.

Despite these, he further mentioned that other constraints hinder trade facilitation such as transit time at the ports, border delays at main crossings, unharmonised regulations and lengthy documentation such as cargo clearance procedures. Other constraints mentioned include challenges associated with ICT connectivity as well trade imbalance that is; the fact that transporters struggle to secure a return trip load.

Other challenges are related to infrastructure that may not be up to standard or completely missing such as railways and communication. The Covid19 pandemic has further affected smooth trade facilitation within the region.

According to the speakers in the panel discussion, A lot of traders were caught unaware and there was not enough notice especially when the lockdowns were effected. They stated that there were long queues at ports of entry and interpretation of some enforced protocols was not consistent and thus caused conflict between authorities because of incoherent interpretation of protocols.

Costs to transporters were also increased as some cargo was not allowed to move, and borders would close for disinfection without notice. Furthermore, panellists decried COVID19 tests that were taken at the border as they resulted in a lot of delays which translated into high operational costs.

In conclusion, Mpofu stated that transportation costs in Africa remain the highest in the world. This results in the transaction costs, in general, being very heavy on traders who then transmit such costs to consumers.

He said that the program for infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) estimates that corridor inefficiencies in the African Regional Transport Infrastructure Network cost over $75 billion per annum. This reduces African countries’ intraregional and international competitiveness.

“There is a need to develop smart corridors which prioritize Safety, Mobility, Automated, Real-time Traffic Management. These are single electronic windows which offer; cargo tracking; commercial vehicle tracking; container tracking; freight train tracks; and high visibility corridor efficiency monitoring,” said Mpofu.

The SACU Investment Round Table meeting was held in Gaborone in April encompassing the SACU Member States which include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. The event was held under the theme “Positioning SACU as an industrial, investment, manufacturing and innovation hub for the African Continent and beyond.”


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