GOVERNMENT will accelerate the completion of the feasibility study for the modernisation of Mpulungu Harbour as a basis for raising resources for implementation of the project.
Finance Minister Felix Mutati said the feasibility was expected to be completed by end of February this year to enable Government and its cooperating partners begin the project financing process.
Mr Mutati said modernization of the port infrastructure and equipment would enable the country expand the export earnings to drive growth through foreign exchange earnings.
He was speaking when he toured Mpulungu Harbour port in the company of Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme, Northern Province Minister Brian Mundubile and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) commissioner general Kingsley Chanda at the weekend.
Mr Mutati said Government was mindful that Mpulungu Harbour had been talked about for a long time and was delighted that cooperating partners had commenced works at the port.
He said the most critical component that required to be done was to accelerate the completion of the feasibility study.
“I am glad to report that the Minister of Transport and Communications Brian Mushimba has given a tremendous push to ensure that the feasibility study is completed as a basis for raising resources for Mpulungu.
“African Development Bank (AfDB) are desirous that by June this year, they will begin to disburse money into Mpulungu Harbour to make it a driver for growth so that the people in agriculture will find a route through Mpulungu,” he said.
Mr Mutati noted that the country was losing a good source of income and export opportunity hence Government’s desire to work hard to ensure that the plan moved from project study to implementation.
He said Mpulungu provided the country with the best opportunity and responded to the key pillar of export diversification which could happen through the development and expansion of the Harbour.
And Mr Mundubile who explained the commencement of works on the Harbour, called for support in developing the area as a means to eradicate poverty.
“The works on the Mpulungu Harbour have commenced, as a province, we need support, as you are aware, in terms of poverty reduction, we believe that the major weapon to fight poverty is sustainable employment,” Mr Mundubile said.
And Mpulungu Harbour Corporation Limited general manager Davies Kaluba urged the Government to speed up the modernisation process of the port.
Mr Kaluba explained that the port had the capacity to handle more than 170, 000 export volumes if the infrastructure was quickly modernised.
“This is something we have tested. In 2014, we were only doing 46,000 of export volumes and by last year, we were handling 170,000 and we know that should we grow this port and improve infrastructure, maybe in a year or two we will probably be talking double that amount.
“At the moment, our infrastructure is too old for the business that we have,” Mr Kaluba said.