$600M RAIL­WAY DEAL Gov­ern­ment part­ners Botswana, Mozam­bique in 2 000km project

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Nqo­bile Tshili

THE Gov­ern­ment has part­nered Botswana and Mozam­bique in a $600 mil­lion project to roll out a 2 000km rail­way line cut­ting across the three coun­tries to fa­cil­i­tate trade.

Min­is­ters rep­re­sent­ing the three gov­ern­ments yes­ter­day signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing com­mit­ting them­selves to the Port Te­choba­n­ine Heavy Haul Rail Project.

The Min­is­ter of Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment, Dr Jo­ram Gumbo, Mozam­bique’s Min­is­ter of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Mr Car­los Al­berto Mesquita and Botswana’s Min­is­ter of Min­er­als, En­ergy and Wa­ter Re­sources Mr Onkokane Kitso Mokaila signed the agree­ment in Bu­l­awayo.

Dr Gumbo said Zim­babwe stands to ben­e­fit more from the project as al­most 1 500km of the rail­way line will be in Zim­babwe.

“Only about 100km of rail will be in Botswana and an­other 100km will be in Mozam­bique. But if you look at the stretch that is about 1 500km, that means the long­est rail will be in Zim­babwe.

“That means a lot to our coun­try in terms of tran­sit pay­ments,” he said.

Dr Gumbo said each gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to con­trib­ute about $200 mil­lion to the project and, due to its mag­ni­tude, the Gov­ern­ment would en­gage the busi­ness sec­tor in pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships.

“It is hoped and an­tic­i­pated that the project will pro­vide im­proved dis­tri­bu­tion of re­gional traf­fic among cor­ri­dors in South­ern Africa, in­crease re­gional in­te­gra­tion and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and pro­vide for fast im­ple­men­ta­tion of a fun­da­men­tal re­gional trans­porta­tion net­work,” he said.

Dr Gumbo said the deal would en­sure easy ac­cess to ports in Mozam­bique which will de­con­gest the South African ones.

He said the coun­try is fa­cil­i­tat­ing the trans­porta­tion of fuel from Mozam­bique to Botswana and if the project suc­ceeds it will en­sure cheaper pas­sage of goods.

“The Ponta Te­choba­n­ine In­ter-re­gional Heavy Haul Rail­way project is ex­pected to fa­cil­i­tate in­vest­ment in min­ing, trans­port and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors that have stunted in Zim­babwe and Botswana alike due to lack of sea­port fa­cil­i­ties for im­por­ta­tion of ma­te­rial and com­po­nents and ex­ports of ore prod­ucts and fin­ished com­modi­ties,” said Dr Gumbo.

Min­is­ter Mokaila said the MoU was a sign of com­mit­ment from the coun­tries in­volved and if the project suc­ceeds it will boost re­gional trade.

He said the rail­way project was im­por­tant for his coun­try fol­low­ing the re­cent dis­cov­ery of 212 bil­lion tonnes of coal that they will want to ex­port to Europe and Asia.

Min­is­ter Mokaila said Mozam­bique’s ports were an al­ter­na­tive as South African ones were very busy while there is no in­fra­struc­ture link­ing Botswana and Namibia.

Min­is­ter Mesquita said the project would boost agri­cul­ture, the eco­nomic back­bone of South­ern Africa and chal­lenged mem­ber coun­tries to in­vest in­ten­sively in farm­ing for both ex­port and do­mes­tic use.

“It is time that we don’t work alone. We have to share our dreams and vi­sions. We’ve to put up things to­gether for dif­fer­ent sort of ben­e­fits . . . I can tell you that there are in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies even from China that are very much keen to come and bring fi­nances as well as the tech­nol­ogy and that’s ex­actly what we’re analysing,” he said.

Min­is­ter Mesquita urged Sadc coun­tries to spe­cialise in agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, say­ing farm­ing can trans­form the eco­nomic for­tunes of the re­gion.

“Africa and coun­tries in South­ern Africa we need to de­velop through agri­cul­ture. We may have other re­sources like min­er­als but land and wa­ter are the re­sources that we’ve to cap­i­talise on. We’ve to drive all our ef­forts into pro­duc­tion, pro­duc­tiv­ity and match­ing it with en­ergy from coal, gas, wa­ter, wind and so on,” he said.

Min­is­ter Mesquita said suc­cess in agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties needs vi­able in­fra­struc­ture for the trans­port sec­tor to move the pro­duce.

The Min­is­ter of Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment, Dr Jo­ram Gumbo, (cen­tre) Botswana’s Min­is­ter of Min­er­als, En­ergy and Wa­ter Re­sources Mr Onkokane Kitso Mokaila (left) and Mozam­bique’s Min­is­ter of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Mr Car­los Al­berto Mesquita sign a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day

Min­is­ter Prisca Mup­fu­mira

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