Transporters get presidential business assurance
Published On April 17, 2024 » 630 Views» By Times Reporter » Business, Columns
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Transporters get presidential business assurance
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema had a meeting with transporters, public passenger transport operators as well as bus and taxi drivers last Thursday.
The sector players aired out their views and presented their various petitions to the President after exhausting various Government channels.
Zambia being landlocked has potential to be the transport and logistics hub for the region as it is surrounded by eight neighbouring countries.
The transport sector is a key catalyst in fostering economic growth as it facilitates the movement of goods and services in the country.
Over the years, the Zambian transport sector has not realized its full potential due to the numerous challenges it has faced among them the dominance of foreign transporters and lack of implementation of laws that promote the growth of the local businesses.
According to the freights association, Zambia loses out more than $100 million every month to foreign companies that have dominated in the country’s transport and logistics sector.
The association informed the President the major challenges sector players face such as the non-implementation of Statutory Instrument (SI) number 35 of 2021(Transportation of Commodities by Road).
This SI provides for the 50-per cent business to be reserved for Zambian citizens while SI number 1 of 2017 on reservations Scheme, restricts domestic haulage to Zambians.
The others are the implementation of the Mines and Minerals Development Act provision which provides for services to the mines which have to be reserved for Zambian citizens.
Another one is the SI on the transportation of at least 30 per cent of the heavy and bulk commodities by rail.
The transporters want the Government to repeal the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act of 2022 which legalises manufacturers and factories to own trucks and deny the citizens the contracts for transportation.
Representative Benson Tembo petitioned the Government to consider using the Chanida Border Post in Katete as the final clearing point for all commodities being loaded at the Port of Beira in Mozambique to boost commerce on the Great East Corridor.
“We shall see full economic activities in Katete, Chanida and other towns in Eastern Province due to increased traffic. This will equally reduce the road carnages we experience at Kapiringozi on the Chirundu road.
“The Chirundu border will be decongested and will increase in productivity,” he says.
Mr Tembo, who represented the Copperbelt Open Truckers Association (COTA), Oil Transporters Association of Zambia (COTA) and the Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia (PTAZ) says once the laws are implemented, the dominance of the foreign transporters will be removed.
The foreign trucks will not be allowed to use the Chanida Border because of the third-country rule which was introduced in the Road Traffic Amendment Act of 2022.
Mr Tembo logistics in Zambia needs to be regulated to suit the regional transport business.
“We have hundreds of Zambian citizens studying logistics and transport and this is their opportunity to come and run the sector when they graduate.
“There is need for Zambia to have a transport association created by an Act of Parliament. This will help address a lot of shortcomings in the sector and bring about genuine local growth,” he says.
He calls on the government to speed up the rolling out of the local content law which was recently approved by Cabinet.
Public Passenger Transport Association chairperson Amis Daudi informed the President that passenger transporters are facing a number of challenges among them pirating and poor road network.
Mr Daudi says there is an invasion of illegal bus and taxi operators that are killing registered operators and the sector at large.
He calls for the establishment of modern infrastructure for bus stations in all the major cities in the country.
Mr Daudi wants the Government to start regulating the online taxi business which has killed the industry due to low rates.
Representative from the freight drivers’ union John Changwe calls for the need for transporters to screen employees before contracting them.
Mr Changwe says drivers are getting attacked and dying in foreign countries with little assistance from their employers.
He calls for the establishment of a drivers unit at State House for the President to get first hand information on issues affecting them.
Transport and Logistics Minister Frank Tayali says his ministry is aware of the challenges operators in the transport sector are facing.
Mr Tayali says the ministry in collaboration with other ministries and agencies is seeing to it that the transport sector grows and contributes to growth of the economy.
The minister says the ministry has addressed the issue of pirating and online taxis adding that early this month an SI was gazetted for online taxi operation in the country.
President Hichilema says priority should be given to transport owners operating passenger or cargo transportation.
“I have heard all your concerns and I have written them down here so that I do not forget to follow them up. Let us make this matrix together, let’s create one team…,” he says.
Mr Hichilema says the Government depends on drivers for the transportation of goods and services for the economy to run.
He says drivers are the pulse of the country because they are in contact with all sorts of people.
Mr Hichilema also encourages transport owners to be meeting drivers frequently because they understand the challenges.
The President says Zambian drivers should be treated fairly even in neighbouring countries.
Copperbelt Minister Elisha Matambo says it is good that stakeholders in the transport and logistics sector are preoccupied with policies of the new dawn administration and are free to consult and dialogue with the government.
Mr Matambo says the transport and logistics sector plays a key role in facilitating trade within and outside the country.
He says the United Part for National Development (UPND) manifesto emphasised on the role of local transporters play in development of the country.
Mr Matambo pays tribute to the president for taking time to interact directly with transporters and drivers on the Copperbelt.
With the intervention of president in resolving the challenges that players in the transport and logistics sector face, the sector was headed for business boom
Business boom in this sector which is the second largest employer in the country, more jobs and wealth will be created.
By CHATULA KANGALI

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